Business update

Aviation operations at Zurich Airport

Traffic trends and flight timetable

The returning popularity of travel was clearly reflected in passenger numbers, which once more reached almost pre-crisis levels. The summer and autumn holiday periods saw over 100,000 air passengers on some days, peaking at 110,148 passengers on 8 October and setting a new daily record since the coronavirus pandemic. For comparison: the all-time passenger record on 28 July 2019 was 114,872 passengers.

During the year under review, Zurich Airport handled a total of 28.9 million passengers, 91.7% of the volume in 2019. Flight movements totalled 247,456, equivalent to 89.9% of the level reported in 2019.

In terms of cities served in 2023, intercontinental destinations recorded the highest percentage increase in passenger demand. The number of passengers flying within Europe continued to rise as well. The past year saw not only increasing flight frequencies, additional direct services resumed or were added to schedules as well. For instance, since the introduction of the 2023 summer timetable our hub carrier SWISS has resumed services to Shanghai, Cathay Pacific now flies several times a week to Hong Kong, Korean Air offers seasonal direct flights to Seoul, and Edelweiss has introduced new flights from Zurich Airport to Bogotá and Cartagena.

Aviation operations and awards

Alongside the rather time-intensive recruitment and training of new staff at our airport partner companies, the unexpected fast surge in demand presented major challenges to airport operations, in particular on peak days during the spring and summer. Together with the airport partners involved, we were able to take measures that positively contributed to high passenger volumes over the year.

The tendering process for new computed tomography scanners (CT scanners) was also completed in the autumn. Trials in 2024 followed by the successive rollout of these scanners are vital for further improving the passenger experience at security checkpoints.

Along with challenging weather conditions, a shortage of staff at European air traffic control agencies coupled with strikes abroad further exacerbated delays. Together with our partner companies at the airport we worked hard to mitigate these delays as far as possible.

One important measure that will improve punctuality, stabilise flight operations and make them safer are the runway extensions which Zurich voters approved at the beginning of March this year. The electorate thus once again confirmed its confidence in Zurich Airport.

Despite the challenges posed by high passenger volumes, during 2023 Zurich Airport was twice voted the best airport in Europe: for the seventh time it received the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Award, and for no less than the 20th time it won the World Travel Award.

New offerings and changes to passenger processes

In November 2023 the company introduced a new service for all passengers, irrespective of airline and travel class – ZRH Comfort. This allows air passengers to book access to a separate serviced lounge in the Airside Center and to use the priority lane at the security checkpoint. Three new work and relax zones have also been available to travellers using Dock A since December.

The start of the 2023/24 winter timetable marked the launch of the project to replace the ageing baggage sorting and handling systems at Check-in 1. The check-in locations of affected airlines will be temporarily moved while the systems are being successively replaced. At the same time, the new baggage sorting system was gradually phased in. The construction work being carried out in connection with the development of the landside passenger areas will also require the rerouting of some passenger pathways this year.

During the year under review, Zurich Airport Ltd. decided to take over the provision of services for passengers with reduced mobility (PRM). From January 2025 onwards, it will therefore integrate the employees of Goldair AAS Assistance AG into Zurich Airport Ltd.

Real estate and commercial centers at Zurich Airport

Real estate business

The Real Estate division of Zurich Airport Ltd. has proved to be a strong and important revenue stream and in 2023 recorded the highest-ever revenues in the companyʼs history. The focus in 2023 was on portfolio management, restructuring contracts, and the strategic development of the hangar area. As part of Zurich Airport Ltd.’s sustainability commitment, the Energy and Decarbonisation department was established. As well as upgrading building energy systems, it will specifically prioritise the transition to renewable energy sources such as PV solar panels, waste heat and geothermal energy. One related important project is investigating the use of an ice-age channel running under the airfield which made excellent progress last year. In the best-case scenario, this natural energy store will provide the entire airport complex with space heating and cooling from 2027 onwards.

The Circle

Over 50 companies employing upwards of 5,000 people have now taken up residence in the Circle, the highest-rated LEED Platinum-certified building and the largest MINERGIE-certified building in Switzerland. Both hotel and convention businesses and healthcare services have become very well established there. The occupancy rate for office space is around 95%. New tenancies taken up during the reporting year include the financial services company GRENKELEASING AG and the IT business Inventx AG. Joining other dining establishments in the Circle were Negishi, Pret a Manger and the Bistro am Südplatz. With these three additions, all the spaces earmarked for cafés and restaurants have now been let. A number of events such as the third edition of the Zauberpark festival of music and light, the airportʼs 75th anniversary celebrations, the Zurich Food Festival and the Quartierfest attracted many visitors and further enlivened the Circle. A few adjustments will be necessary in the retail segment over the next two years, but this is not unusual for a new project.

Airport Shopping and Airside Center

The turnover generated in the Airside Center rose in line with the recovery in passenger numbers. In the publicly accessible Airport Shopping area, turnover even surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Renovations in the northern section of Airport Shopping will result in some passenger rerouting and store closures from 2024, although this will be offset by other measures elsewhere as far as possible. The extensive remodelling planned includes a new food hall, creating more attractive retail spaces and providing better links to the Circle.

Further development at Zurich Airport

Following the 2023 decision by Zurichʼs Cantonal Parliament in favour of extending runways 28 and 32, Zurich voters likewise approved this safety-related project at the beginning of March 2024. As a result, Zurich Airport Ltd. can now go ahead and submit its planning application to the federal government and make progress with one of its most important projects in recent years. Zurich Airport operates with a very complex runway system and extending these runways will ensure greater safety, improved punctuality and less noise impact in the evenings. The electorate once again expressed its confidence in Zurich Airport.

New baggage sorting system

The biggest building project at Zurich Airport is currently underway while operations continue largely as normal. Following extensive trials and ongoing adjustments, integration of the new system and the phased transition from the old baggage sorting system began in the 2023 financial year. As well as continuing to ensure reliable baggage routing in future, Zurich Airportʼs new facility will comply with the new EU security screening regulations for hold luggage. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology costing some CHF 450 million, this new infrastructure at Zurich Airport is significantly more energy-efficient than existing systems.

Development of landside passenger zones

Over the coming years, the publicly accessible areas of the airport terminal will see the introduction of wider passenger routes, improved logistics, new retail spaces and a new food hall with outdoor terraces. Owing to an objection regarding the construction tendering process, the initial groundworks were delayed. However, building work has since resumed and the new spaces and passenger routes will gradually come on stream from 2027. The construction work will be phased in order to minimise disruption to airport operations. The total investment runs to approximately CHF 250 million.

Development of the main airport complex with Dock A and tower

Project planning for replacing the existing Dock A, dock base and tower commenced during the year under review. The planning applications have been submitted. The new Dock A will be built largely of wood on the passenger levels. The planned solar panels will cover around a third of the new dock’s electricity requirement. Despite having a larger volume, the new building will also require much less heat. Renewable sources will be used for heating and cooling the infrastructure, which will greatly improve passenger comfort levels. Retail and hospitality offerings will also be optimised. Building work for the tower is due to commence in 2027, and for Dock A from 2030.

Zone West and Rächtenwisen cargo building

Following a two-year, pandemic-related suspension, construction work for Zone West was resumed. A total of 14 stands for scheduled and charter aircraft plus a parking area for business jets will be built on the western side of the airport. A high-rise building with hangar aprons is being planned to the west of the new apron. Completion of the construction project design is in the final stages, and a planning application was submitted at the end of February 2024. A seamless replacement for plane spottersʼ hill and the Heligrill was planned. However, due to an appeal submitted by the owners of a nearby wood, it has not yet been possible to complete this project.

The planning application for the new Rächtenwisen cargo building was approved. Construction is due to begin during the second quarter of 2024, with completion of the CHF 40 million cargo building scheduled for 2027.

ZRH Innovation Hub and digitalisation

In order to anticipate trends and be better equipped to face new and rapidly evolving challenges over the coming years, the company set up the ZRH Innovation Hub. This is organised as a staff unit that reports directly to the CEO. It focuses on multi-partner improvements to the customer experience and processes at Zurich Airport.

Further progress was made with the digitalisation of processes and products during 2023 as well. The company received the World Travel Tech Award for the best airport website in Europe for the second time. In addition, an online magazine was launched to make the wide range of stories about Zurich Airport even more accessible to the public at large.

In the Real Estate division, digitalisation was promoted in various projects across different levels during 2023. To optimise digital requirements, processes and services and operate more strategically in future, the division grouped the requisite competencies in a new "Digital Real Estate" team. Trials of two cleaning robots to support personnel have also been underway since December 2023. A newly developed Smart Cleaning solution enables them to maintain high standards of cleanliness, while data analyses optimise and automate the processes.

International airport business

International business saw marked growth in 2023 and is becoming increasingly important for the success of Zurich Airport Ltd. Further revenue growth is expected from our subsidiaries in Latin America and India over the next few years.

Latin America

The airports in Latin America all progressed well during the reporting year. In a public tendering process, in May 2023 Zurich Airport Ltd. was awarded a 30-year operating licence for Natal Airport in northeastern Brazil. The company assumed control of Natal during February of the current year. The newly acquired Natal Airport complements Zurich Airport Ltd.ʼs existing portfolio in Brazil and will enable it to benefit even more from the growth of the Brazilian aviation market. In 2023, the two airports at Florianópolis and Vitória were recognised as the best airports in their size category. Also, for the third time in a row, Florianópolis Airport in Brazil was awarded a “Green Airport” accolade by Airports Council International (ACI). In Macaé, the new runway is progressing well according to plan. Following delays resulting from the bankruptcy of the general contractor, expansion of the terminal in Iquique (Chile) was completed and it commenced operation.


Construction work at Noida International Airport is proceeding rapidly, making Zurich Airport Ltd. currently the biggest Swiss investor in India. The structure of the terminal is already in place, and building work on the control tower has reached the top level. Construction of the take-off and landing runway is well advanced. The new airport aims to meet high standards not only terms of quality, but also in sustainability. For instance, power will be supplied mostly from PV solar panels and wind turbines, rainwater will be collected, grey water is to be recycled, and the vehicle fleet as well as the ground handling equipment will be equipped with electric vehicles. Shortly before the end of the year, a declaration of intent was signed with Indiaʼs largest airline, IndiGo Airlines, for stationing part of their fleet at Noida International Airport. IndiGo is one of the fastest growing airlines in the world and will offer an extensive route network from Noida, focusing on flights to other Indian cities. A further declaration of intent was recently also signed with Akasa Air. Discussions with further airlines operating in India, South-East Asia and the Middle East are ongoing. The majority of service contracts for operating the airport have also been awarded to licensed companies.

Corporate culture

Along with its corporate culture, the strong positioning of Zurich Airport Ltd. as an employer was further strengthened during the year under review. The company responded to the rapidly changing demands placed on it as an employer with various measures such as further improvements to working conditions and the creation of a new Employer Branding post. Zurich Airport Ltd. received the Swiss HR Award 2023 for its new onboarding app for employees joining the company. The corporate values redefined in 2022 were also discussed in various workshops and meetings during the reporting year in order to progress the integration of these values into our corporate and management culture. The focus during the year under review was on agility.