Traffic trends and flight timetable
While still rather low at the beginning of the year, passenger volumes at Zurich Airport bounced back noticeably within a very short space of time from the spring, peaking at over 90,000 travellers per day on occasion during the summer and autumn holiday periods. By way of comparison, the all-time passenger record was 114,872 on a July day in the summer of 2019. In the year under review, 22.6 million passengers overall travelled via Zurich Airport, a year-on-year increase of 120%, and 72% of the level in 2019. The airport handled a total of 216,585 flight movements (+63% compared with 2021). Thanks to our dependable airport partner companies and committed employees, airport operations ran very smoothly for the most part. On 15 June, following an internal IT hardware failure, the Swiss air navigation service Skyguide issued a “clear the sky” order to immediately close all of Switzerland's airspace. Good cooperation between the crisis teams ensured that this incident was well managed.
Bookings picked up during the holiday periods in particular, and our hub carriers SWISS and Edelweiss Air were able to increase their frequencies. Airlines were serving almost as many destinations after the summer as before the crisis. We also welcomed the airlines Ethiopian and Saudia to Zurich Airport. The former flies weekly to Addis Ababa, while the Saudi-Arabian airline flies to Riyadh twice a week. Following a pandemic-related interruption, Cathay Pacific has also been back at Zurich Airport operating a weekly flight to Hong Kong since the beginning of December 2022.
The outbreak of war in Ukraine in February has had little direct impact on Zurich Airport to date, but flight routes to Asia have become longer as a result.
Real estate and commercial centers
Our real estate and commercial centers at the Zurich site are key planks of our corporate strategy as their revenues contribute significantly to the financial stability of the company. Real estate in particular proved to be a stable revenue stream even during the coronavirus crisis. Following the successful purchase of property on Priora land at the end of 2019 and the new long-term positioning of lease agreements from 2022, the SR Technics buildings are now the focus of energy efficiency refurbishment and development. The new Rächtenwisen cargo building was given the green light. Demolition work on the existing building will start at the end of 2023 and the new one is scheduled to commence operational service in the summer of 2026.
Energy supply systems are a further prime focus. Against the backdrop of the Europe-wide energy crisis, the supply situation eased somewhat towards the end of the reporting year, but the ongoing tensions between cost discipline, security of supply and climate goals still demand careful planning. The sustainability aspects of the roadmap for expanding renewable energy at the Zurich site were further refined in 2022. In particular, progress was made in energy generation from solar panels and geothermal systems. Work also began on upgrading the energy systems of various buildings.
Since opening in November 2020, the Circle has had a significant impact on value creation in Zurich: according to a recent study it had generated around CHF 1.6 billion for the local economy after just one year in operation. 49 enterprises employing over 5000 people have now leased premises in the Circle. Two new recent tenants are Beyond Gravity and the dental implant firm Neoss. The two Hyatt hotels and the Conference Center in the Circle are reporting very positive progress. The Circle is also proving successful as an event venue. In particular, the Zauberpark festival of light and music and the Quartierfest attracted many visitors. Once tourism picked up again and passenger numbers rose, bars and restaurants likewise experienced high demand. Two further promising offerings are set to open in the spring of 2023. The retail business is growing in line with the steadily rising footfall, and certain optimisations of the concept are in the planning stages.
The Circle also boasts excellent sustainability credentials. As well as being the largest MINERGIE-certified building, it is the best LEED Platinum-certified building in Switzerland, utilising efficient alternative energy sources, for example solar power or heat pumps with systematic heat recovery and underground thermal energy storage.
Airport Shopping and Airside Center
Turnover in the passenger zone rose in line with passenger volumes. In the publicly accessible areas, sales reached pre-crisis levels already towards the end of the reporting year. Bars and restaurants in particular contributed to this positive growth. Following extensive refurbishment, the popular Bye-Bye Bar sparkles once more. The new SBB travel center and contemporary capsule hotel opposite Check-in-1 boost the range of services tailored to travellers. A number of other new tenants offering accessories, high-tech, games and delicatessen foods also started up landside and airside.
Further development at Zurich Airport
Owing to the many uncertainties arising as a result of the pandemic, several infrastructure projects were slowed or paused. During the year under review, it was possible to resume building activities and step up investment again. Our major projects hit important milestones and other projects made progress or were successfully completed, such as the renovation of runway 10/28 for example. Mild weather enabled the construction work on this project to be completed early and within budget.
New Dock A
The architecture competition for development of the main airport complex (EFHK) was concluded, and the winning project “Raumfachwerk” by the planning team of BIG, HOK and 10.8 Architekten was communicated. The new Dock A will be built largely from sustainable wood on the passenger levels – a design that is so far unique for a terminal building of this size. The new structure will make a major contribution to Flughafen Zürich AG's ambitious CO2 reduction strategy as solar panels mounted on the roof of the new dock and dock base will supply around two thirds of the building's annual electricity requirement. The dock base connects the Airside Center and the underground passport control hall – which will be expanded as part of the project – with the passenger levels in the dock. The interior architecture will exude a sense of spaciousness. The new Dock A will provide passengers with an enhanced experience, a better view of the apron through the large windows, and spacious waiting areas at the gates. The retail, bar and restaurant offerings in the new dock base will likewise be expanded. Construction work will be carried out in several phases, commencing with the apron and arrivals hall in 2024, while work on the tower will begin from 2027 and on the dock plus base from 2030.
Development of landside passenger zones
What is currently the most visible building project will create wider passenger routes, improved logistics, new retail spaces and a food hall with outdoor terraces directly at the main terminal by 2026. The groundworks continued during the reporting year, and construction of the buildings is set to commence already in spring 2024. The project will likewise be implemented in stages in order to minimise disruption to airport operations.
Baggage sorting system
Work on upgrading the baggage sorting system is proceeding apace. Milestones reached in the year under review were the inauguration of the new early bag store and the new X-ray scanners. Refurbishment of the sorting system has been delayed due to supply chain issues and also implementation of the EU's new baggage security checking standards, which will come into force from 1 March 2023. In the interim, our partners – the Zurich cantonal police – are having to lay on extra staff to carry out security checks. The overall costs of the building project remain within the expected range, however, and phased introduction is still on track for the winter of 2023/24.
Zone West & Glatt regeneration
After its temporary suspension, the Zone West airfield development project was reactivated. Construction work will begin in the spring of 2023. The additional aircraft stands are scheduled to be ready by the end of 2024 so work on the apron around Dock A can go ahead unimpeded. The initial preparatory work for the business aviation building was also carried out.
The Tolwäng–Fromatt section of the Glatt regeneration project was granted planning approval. The airport is consequently able to deliver the legally required environmental offsetting measures for a range of future expansion projects. An attractive recreational area stretching approximately 2.5 km alongside a restored near-natural watercourse is being created on the western side of the airport. As the detailed planning, preparation and coordination of the construction phase requires around two years, work on this is expected to commence in 2025 at the earliest.
New services and digitalisation
The airport saw the development not only of building projects, but also of services and passenger handling operations. Fast and efficient passenger processes enhance the travel experience and help boost the attractiveness of an airport. At Zurich Airport, travellers with the Lufthansa Group and the airline Chair have been able to drop off their baggage at 20 self-bag drop machines at Check-in 2 or 3 since 2022, and these will also be available for passengers of other airlines in future. As part of a wide-ranging sustainable mobility drive, the e-mobility offerings for travellers and visitors to Zurich Airport were greatly expanded. Other services designed to enhance the travel experience were progressed during the reporting year, including biometric passport control and convenience security lanes. Owing to the need to comply with EU rules, the introduction of Schengen zone entry/exit screenings, originally planned for 2022, is now expected to go ahead in the second half of 2023.
Zurich Airport regularly receives awards for the high quality of its services, cleanliness of the terminals, friendly staff and reliable operation. It consequently remains very popular with travellers, and in the spring once again repeated its successes of 2006, 2008, 2018 and 2019 by winning for a fifth time the Airport Service Quality Award for best European airport in the category “airports with 25-40 million passengers”. Zurich also received the prestigious World Travel Award for best airport in Europe for the 19th time in succession. Zurich Airport has remained unbeaten in this category every year since 2004. The World Travel Tech Awards also recognised the flughafen-zuerich.ch Digital Experience Platform as the best airport website in Europe.
Corporate culture and values
Internally, we redefined the company's values and purpose and continued to work on our corporate and management culture. We aspire to continually evolve as a company and as an employer because the changing world of work and the shifting market environment demand a culture of openness and willingness to adapt. We were particularly pleased with the results of an internal survey which reflect the strong bond our employees have with the company: 97% of staff indicated that they recognised their contribution to the success of the company and 94% are proud to be working for Flughafen Zürich AG.
International airport business
Our international business with a focus on the Indian and Latin American markets has become firmly established in its separate division.
Noida International Airport is currently our biggest project abroad. In June of the reporting year, the contract for building a terminal, runway and associated landside and airside infrastructure was awarded to Tata Projects Ltd. as general contractor. Concession agreements for an airport hotel were signed in the autumn, and initial decisions were taken on a strategic partner for the cargo and logistics infrastructure. The future airport organisation is gradually being established, with marketing to airlines, logistics and commercial partners in full swing.
As at all the company's sites, Flughafen Zürich AG is focused on sustainability in Noida too, including the extensive use of solar-powered electricity, grey water recycling and the deployment of electric vehicles across the board. After opening, Noida International Airport is aiming to be the first airport in India to deliver net zero carbon emissions, and will consequently set new standards for sustainable airport operation. Once the initial construction phase has been completed and it has opened as planned at the end of 2024, Noida International Airport will have the capacity to handle around 12 million passengers a year.
The Latin American market has proved to be robust, with air travel actually recovering faster there than in Zurich. The two airports at Florianópolis and Vitória received top awards for the quality of their infrastructure, the friendliness of staff and general passenger satisfaction from the Brazilian Ministry of Transport. Along with ongoing cost optimisation, the focus is now primarily on exploiting additional revenue streams, in particular from real estate. Owing to the bankruptcy of the general contractor, the terminal expansion project in Iquique (Chile) has been delayed slightly. Countermeasures were taken to minimise the delays, however. In Macaé (Brazil), plans for the new runway are progressing well and it is likely to come on stream in the summer of 2025.