Geneva Airport

Aéroport de Genève
Flughafen Genf
Aeroporto di Ginevra
Eroport de Genevra
Summary
Airport typePublic
OwnerCanton of Geneva
OperatorGenève Aéroport
ServesGrand Genève
LocationLe Grand-Saconnex, Meyrin and Bellevue
Opened11 October 1919; 104 years ago (1919-10-11)[1]
Hub forSwiss International Air Lines
Operating base foreasyJet Switzerland
Elevation AMSL1,411 ft / 430 m
Coordinates46°14′15″N 6°06′33″E / 46.23756°N 6.10921°E / 46.23756; 6.10921
Websitewww.gva.ch/en
Map
GVA/LSGG is located in Switzerland
GVA/LSGG
GVA/LSGG
Location of airport
Runways
Direction Length Surface
m ft
04/22 3,900 12,795 Concrete
04L/22R 823 2,700 Grass/Earth
Statistics (2022[2])
Passengers14,085,282
Cargo (in metric tons)70,566
Movements163,168
Source: Geneva Airport Media Center 17 January 2017[3]
Swiss AIP at EUROCONTROL[4]

Geneva Airport (French: Aéroport de Genève) (IATA: GVA, ICAO: LSGG), formerly and still unofficially known as Cointrin Airport (Aéroport de Cointrin), is an international airport of Geneva, the second most populous city in Switzerland. It is located 4 km (2.5 mi) northwest[4] of the city centre. It surpassed the 15-million-passengers-a-year mark for the first time in December 2014.[5] The airport serves as a hub for Swiss International Air Lines and easyJet Switzerland. It features a route network of flights mainly to European metropolitan and leisure destinations as well as some long-haul routes to North America, China, Africa, and the Middle East, amongst them Swiss International Air Lines' only long-haul service (to New York–JFK) outside of Zürich.

The airport lies entirely within Swiss territory,[6] however, its northern limit runs along the Swiss–French border and the airport can be accessed from both countries. The freight operations are also accessible from both countries, making Geneva a European Union freight hub although Switzerland is not a member of the EU. The airport is partially in the municipality of Meyrin and partially in the municipality of Le Grand-Saconnex.[7][8]

History

Air Afrique Douglas DC-8 in Geneva in 1976
Pan Am Boeing 727-200 in Geneva in 1987. A Finnair DC-9 is also visible
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Early years

On 11 October 1919, the Grand Council of Geneva approved the establishment of an "airfield" at Meyrin.[1] A simple airfield was established in Cointrin, near the city of Geneva, covering an area of 54 hectares (130 acres).[1][9] From 1926 to 1931, the airfield's wooden sheds were replaced by three concrete hangars. At the time, there was a small amount of air traffic, with Luft Hansa flying from Berlin to Barcelona via Halle, Leipzig, Geneva and Marseille. Swissair also flew the Geneva–Lyon–Paris route through a codesharing agreement with Air Union. By 1930, there were six airlines that flew to Geneva Airport on seven different routes.

1937 saw construction of the first concrete runway; it measured 405 by 21 metres (1,329 by 69 ft). In 1938, eight airlines were flying to Geneva: Swissair, KLM, Luft Hansa, Air France, Malert (Hungary), AB Aerotransport (Sweden), Alpar (Switzerland) and Imperial Airways (UK).

During World War II, the Swiss authorities forbade all flights from Switzerland, but expansion of the airport led to increasing its area to 95 hectares (230 acres) and extending the main runway first to 1,000 by 50 metres (3,280 by 160 ft). A further 200 metres (660 ft) of runway was added near the end of the war as well as provision for future expansion to a length of 2,500 metres (8,200 ft).[9]

As part of the Federal Government's post-war planning for the nation's airports, Geneva was identified as one of four main urban airports that were to form the first tier of that system. Cointrin was noted as being well suited for extension and did not require a triangular runway arrangement as the prevailing winds are very regularly along a single axis.[9] Authorities agreed to a 2.3M Swiss Francs project to build a first terminal in Geneva and in 1946 the new terminal – which is today used as Terminal 2 – was ready for use, and the runway was enlarged once more to 2000 m. In 1947, the first service to New York started with a Swissair Douglas DC-4. On 17 July 1959, the first jet aircraft landed in Geneva, an SAS Caravelle, and it was followed, 11 years later, by a TWA Boeing 747 which landed in 1970.

Development since the 1960s

Aerial view (1968)
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To provide for jet traffic, in 1960, the runway was extended to its current length of 3,900 m (12,800 ft). This is unusually long for an airport of this size, and could only be built after some territory was exchanged between France and Switzerland. The northeastern end of the 1946 runway had also been the frontier between Geneva and the neighbouring French commune of Ferney-Voltaire. The runway extension needed to use land that was then French, and an international agreement was needed whereby the necessary land was transferred from France to Switzerland, and territory of identical size, also adjacent to Ferney-Voltaire, transferred in the opposite direction. In this way, Switzerland remained exactly the same size, and its neutrality remained unsullied. The extension also entailed the construction of the current tunnel leading to Ferney-Voltaire and of the joint border post on its northern side, which is unusual for Switzerland in that it is entirely on French territory. In the process, the old hamlet of La Limite disappeared, although as of April 2013 a building from that era still stands isolated within a motorway junction on the southern side of the runway.

In 1968, the construction of a second runway and a mid-field round terminal were proposed, but ultimately the concept was never realised. On 7 May 1968, Geneva Main Terminal was inaugurated, which was planned to accommodate 7 million passengers a year. This number was reached in 1985.

Despite there never being a regular Concorde service in Switzerland, the supersonic aircraft twice landed in Geneva. On 31 August 1976, more than 5000 people came to see the Concorde land.

In 1987, Geneva airport was linked to the Swiss rail system, with a new station built close to the main terminal. Since then, a number of changes have been made. Two of the three in-field terminals have been upgraded with jet bridges, and a new terminal has been built in front of the main terminal with 12 jet bridges, plus two ground floor gates.

The current number of passengers flying through Cointrin is around 15 million per year, and it's growing rapidly. One proposed solution to support the future 25 million passengers a year in 2030 is to (as in some countries) prevent aircraft carrying less than a hundred passengers, so there would be less traffic but more passengers. This proposal hasn't been approved yet. Officials are still thinking about finding another solution that could easily increase Geneva's Airport traffic. Geneva Cointrin Airport has only one runway, handling one aircraft about every 90 seconds between 6 am and midnight. Changes have already been made in the main terminal with the construction of a new check-in area, new restaurant and duty-free shops, as well as a new security checkpoint.

Facilities

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Terminals

Apron overview

Geneva Airport has two passenger terminals: the newer and larger Terminal 1 (T1), which features the majority of flights, and the smaller and only seasonally used Terminal 2 (T2). It also has a Business Aviation Terminal, also known as Terminal 3 (T3).

Terminal 1

Terminal 1, also known as Main terminal (M) is divided into 5 piers, A, B, C, D and F.

Piers A, B, C and D are located in the Swiss side of Terminal 1. Passengers travelling from these gates (to Swiss or international destinations) check in at the main check-in hall and use the central security check above the check in hall. Pier A is located directly in front of the main shopping area and serves destinations in the Schengen area. Pier B consists of two non-Schengen circular satellite buildings which are reached from the shopping area via an underground walkway, which also houses passport control. Pier C, also non-Schengen, is to the right of Pier A and houses long haul flights using wide body aircraft. Pier D consists of one circular satellite and one bus gate building, which is split between Schengen and non-Schengen passengers on different floors. These are reached via underground walkways from the left end of Pier A.

Before Switzerland's integration into the Schengen Area in 2008, Pier F, also known as the French Sector, was used exclusively for passengers arriving from, or departing to destinations in France. It has two gates with jet bridges and four bus gates. The French Sector exists as a stipulation of an agreement between France and the Canton of Geneva dating from the 1960s, and enables travel between the neighboring French region of Pays de Gex and the airport while avoiding Swiss territory and customs. The French Sector area still exists for passengers arriving from French destinations who wish to exit directly to French territory and avoid Swiss customs controls, although passport control and immigration checks have been dropped as part of the Schengen Treaty.[10] Buses to French ski resorts south of Geneva nowadays use the Swiss sector, since the road distance is much shorter through Geneva, and the passport control is dropped also at the border south of Geneva.

In June 2016, Geneva Airport management announced that they will start upgrading the main check-in hall in terminal 1. This will add one thousand square metres to the actual check-in area and help to cope with the higher passenger volume that the airport faces every year. The renovated check-in hall was fully opened by the end of 2017.[11]

Long-haul pier Aile Est
Interior of the new non-Schengen pier

The airport announced in 2012 a plan to replace the current, outdated long-haul section (Pier C) of the terminal, which originally was intended to be an interim solution back in 1975, with a completely reconstructed facility.[12] Construction originally was delayed by several years by Swissair moving its long haul operation to Zurich in 1996.[13] The September 11, 2001, attacks and the bankruptcy of Swissair in 2001 delayed it further. Lately, a few airlines such as Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, United Airlines, and Swiss International Air Lines have started to use the current facility. The need for this new pier was then urgent. The extension of the airport was opposed by some associations (such as NOÉ21).

In December 2021, construction of the new Aile Est (East Wing) was completed.[14] It is a completely new extension of the terminal replacing the old Pier C in the same location.[15] The new facility is 520 m long and is able to handle six widebody long-haul aircraft at once directly at the building. This building is ecofriendly, electricity produced by 5,000 m2 of solar panels, more than 100 geothermal probes for heat pumps, glazed facades for natural light, additional LED lighting, recovery of rainwater, optimum thermal insulation with triple glazing, eliminates bus rides on the tarmac, and finally power supply and hot / cold direct 3 additional positions instead of an external diesel power.[16]

The new terminal pier has been in operation since 14 December 2021 and is used for all long-haul flights and several non-Schengen destinations.[17]

Terminal 2

Terminal 2, which is only operational seasonally

Terminal 2 is only used during the winter charter season. This was the original terminal at Geneva Airport. It was built in 1946 and remained in use until the 1960s when the Main Terminal opened. Facilities at Terminal 2 are poor, with only one restaurant and no duty-free shops. Passengers check in and pass through security checks at this terminal, and then take a low floor bus to piers A, B, C and D at T1. Arriving passengers are bussed directly from the aircraft to T2 and then pass through passport control (if needed) and collect their baggage there. Geneva Airport wanted to refurbish T2 as a low-cost terminal. At this time EasyJet was the major low-cost airline in Geneva with up to 80 flights a day during winter. Other major airlines at GVA threatened to leave the airport if EasyJet had its own terminal with lower landing charges. Since then, there has been no information about an upgrade of T2 facilities.

Business Aviation Terminal

The Business Aviation Terminal, or Terminal 3 (T3), is located at the south-west end of the airport, about 2 km from Terminal 1. This terminal is a hub for private charter jet companies (also known as Fixed-Base Operators, or FBOs) that offer facilities including VIP lounges, private immigration, and customs screening. Parking at Terminal 3 is limited.[18]

Runways

The airport has a single concrete runway (04/22), which is the longest in Switzerland with a length of 3,900 m (12,795 ft) and one of the longest in Europe, making it open to use by aircraft of all existing sizes. Adjacent to the commercial runway is a smaller, parallel, grass runway (04L/22R)[19] for light aircraft. Since its opening, the runway had been known as 05/23 until September 13, 2018, when it was changed to 04/22 due to the North Magnetic Pole moving. Usually, runway 22 is used when the wind is calm. If the wind is stronger than 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) and in a direction going from 320 to 140 degrees, then runway 04 will be used.

Airlines and destinations

Passenger

The following airlines offer regular scheduled and charter flights at Geneva Airport:[20]

AirlinesDestinations
Aegean Airlines Athens
Aer Lingus Dublin
airBaltic Seasonal: Riga
Air Canada Montréal–Trudeau
Air China Beijing–Capital[21]
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Seasonal: Biarritz
Air Mauritius Seasonal: Mauritius[22]
Air Mountain Seasonal: Saint-Tropez,[23] Sion[23]
AJet Seasonal: Ankara, Antalya[24]
Azerbaijan Airlines Baku[25]
British Airways London–Heathrow
Seasonal: London–City, London–Gatwick[26]
Brussels Airlines Brussels
Delta Air Lines Seasonal: New York–JFK[27]
easyJet Agadir, Alicante, Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Belgrade, Berlin, Birmingham, Bordeaux, Brindisi, Bristol, Brussels, Budapest, Catania, Copenhagen, Djerba,[28] Edinburgh, Enfidha,[29] Funchal, Lille, Lisbon, London–Gatwick, London–Luton, Málaga, Madrid, Manchester, Marrakesh, Nantes, Naples, Nice, Palermo, Palma de Mallorca, Paris–Orly, Porto, Prague, Pristina, Rabat,[30] Rome–Fiumicino, Santiago de Compostela, Seville, Skopje, Stockholm–Arlanda, Tel Aviv (resumes 1 November 2024),[31][32] Tenerife–South, Toulouse, Tromsø (begins 5 December 2024),[33] Venice[34]
Seasonal: Aberdeen, A Coruña,[35] Ajaccio, Antalya, Bari,[36] Bastia, Belfast–International, Bilbao, Bournemouth, Cagliari, Calvi, Chania, Corfu,[37] Dubrovnik, Faro, Figari, Glasgow, Gran Canaria, Heraklion, Hurghada, Ibiza, Kos, Lamezia Terme, Lanzarote,[38] La Rochelle, Leeds/Bradford (begins 18 January 2025),[39] Liverpool, London–Southend,[40] London–Stansted,[41] Malta, Menorca, Mykonos, Newcastle upon Tyne,[42] Olbia, Pula, Rhodes (begins 25 June 2024),[43] Salerno (begins 12 July 2024),[44] Santorini, Sharm El Sheikh, Southampton, Split, Tirana, Tivat, Valencia
Egyptair Cairo
El Al Tel Aviv
Emirates Dubai–International
Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa, Manchester[45]
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi
Eurowings Düsseldorf, Prague[46]
Finnair Helsinki
Gulf Air Seasonal: Bahrain, Milan–Malpensa[47]
Iberia Madrid
Icelandair Seasonal: Reykjavík–Keflavík
ITA Airways Rome–Fiumicino[48]
Jet2.com Seasonal: Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds/Bradford, London–Stansted, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne
KLM Amsterdam
Kuwait Airways Kuwait City
LOT Polish Airlines Warsaw–Chopin
Lufthansa Frankfurt, Munich
Luxair Luxembourg
Middle East Airlines Beirut
Norwegian Air Shuttle Oslo
Seasonal: Copenhagen
Nouvelair Seasonal: Tunis[49]
Pegasus Airlines Antalya, Istanbul–Sabiha Gökçen
Play Seasonal: Reykjavík–Keflavík
Qatar Airways Doha
Royal Air Maroc Casablanca, Marrakesh
Royal Jordanian Amman–Queen Alia
Saudia Jeddah
Seasonal: Medina, Riyadh[50]
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm–Arlanda
SunExpress Seasonal: Antalya,[51] Kayseri[52]
Swiss International Air Lines Athens, Brussels,[53] Copenhagen,[54] Dublin, Frankfurt, Lisbon, London–Heathrow, Málaga, Marrakesh, New York–JFK, Nice, Porto, Pristina, Stockholm–Arlanda,[54] Valencia, Vienna,[55] Zürich
Seasonal: Alicante, Antalya, Biarritz, Brindisi, Catania, Corfu, Cork,[56] Djerba, Faro, Florence, Funchal,[57] Gothenburg, Hamburg,[54] Heraklion, Hurghada, Ibiza, Kalamata, Kittilä, Kos, Larnaca, London–City, London–Gatwick, Menorca, Mykonos, Olbia, Oslo,[54] Palma de Mallorca, Ponta Delgada, Rhodes, Santorini, Thessaloniki, Zakynthos
TAP Air Portugal Lisbon, Porto
Transavia Nantes
Seasonal: Rotterdam/The Hague
TUI Airways Seasonal: Bristol, Dublin,[58] London–Gatwick, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne
Tunisair Tunis
Seasonal: Djerba
Turkish Airlines Istanbul
United Airlines Newark, Washington–Dulles
Vueling Barcelona
Seasonal: Ibiza[59]
Wizz Air Bucharest–Otopeni, Sofia

Other facilities

Statistics

Route statistics

Busiest routes at Geneva Airport (2018)[61]
Rank City Total departing and
arriving passengers
1 United Kingdom London (Heathrow, Gatwick,
Luton, City, Stansted, Southend)
2,469,786
2 France Paris (Orly, Charles de Gaulle) 1,052,447
3 Netherlands Amsterdam 679,826
4 Portugal Porto 676,489
5 Spain Barcelona 636,487
6 Switzerland Zürich 628,106
7 Portugal Lisbon 609,142
8 Belgium Brussels 606,323
9 Spain Madrid 568,027
10 Germany Frankfurt 416,840
11 France Nice 388,398
12 Italy Rome 341,148
13 Turkey Istanbul (Atatürk, Sabiha Gökçen) 340,986
14 United Arab Emirates Dubai 338,517
15 Germany Munich 295,912
16 Austria Vienna 291,549
17 United Kingdom Manchester 271,382
18 Russia Moscow (Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo) 248,495
19 United States New York–JFK 224,447
20 United Kingdom Bristol 213,841

Passenger development

Graphs are unavailable due to technical issues. There is more info on Phabricator and on MediaWiki.org.
Annual passenger traffic at GVA airport. See Wikidata query.

Ground transport

Geneva Airport railway station prior to its refurbishment

Train

Main article: Geneva Airport railway station

The airport is 4 km (2.5 mi)[4] from the Geneva city centre. There is a railway station with trains to Geneva-Cornavin station, and other cities in Switzerland.

Bus

There are local buses that stop at the airport. There are also buses to and from Annecy, France, and also seasonal buses to ski resort Chamonix in France and ski resorts in Switzerland. Many transfer companies operate shared transfers in the winter to many French ski resorts. Winter weekends see dozens of coaches at the nearby Charter terminal (former cargo terminal) meeting charter flights from all over Europe, but primarily the UK. These take holidaymakers to/from ski resorts in France, Switzerland and Italy. The buses in general go from the Swiss sector since this shortens the driving distance to most destinations.

Incidents and accidents

Controversies

The airport's contribution to the economy and its nuisance are the subject of political and public debate. Neighbouring inhabitants and communes are opposed to its growth, particularly because of the noise caused by aircraft.[67] The business community, for its part, has set up an association to defend the airport, AERIA+. Its members include the Fédération des Entreprises Romandes Genève, the Centre patronal and the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Geneva and Vaud. [68]

In popular culture

See also

References

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Notes

Media related to Geneva International Airport at Wikimedia Commons