Fewer planes carry more passengers

There are now fewer planes in circulation, but they have much bigger capacities, like this Airbus A380 taking off from Zurich Airport Keystone

Some 52 million passengers took off, landed or transited via Swiss airports last year. But while the number of passengers continues to soar, there are fewer planes in operation than in 2000. 

This content was published on September 9, 2017 - 10:00
Christian Raaflaub, with agencies

In 2016, Switzerland's national airports in Zurich, Geneva and Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg as well as other regional airports reported a total of 51.8 million passengers (both local and in transit). Since 2000, the number of passengers has increased by 50%, according to the Federal Statistical Office.

However, over the same period the number of aircraft movements - both scheduled and charter flights - fell by 13%.

These opposing trends can be explained by the fact that, according to SWISS, more airlines are using bigger and more efficient aircraft which SWISS says leads to lower ticket prices and increased passenger volumes.

In the future, the number of airline passengers is expected to continue to grow. Zurich Airport, which wants to increase its capacity, says passenger numbers should rise by 6% this year. This will be helped by the introduction of bigger planes, such as the Bombardier C-Series 100 and 300 of SWISS or the Boeing B-777, the airport said in a statement on August 29 when it presented its 2017 half-year results.

The latest statistics appear to confirm forecasts. Zurich Airport reported 2,983,582 passengers in July, a 4.5% increase on the same month last year. The airport's busiest summer day - July 23 - saw a new record of 107,000 passengers; on a normal day there are 30,000 fewer passengers.

More passengers also means more income. For the first half of 2017, Zurich Airport reported a profit of CHF143.2 million ($151 million), or CHF39.4 million more for than the same period last year. However, most of this increase was mostly due to the sale of shares in Bangalore Airport, India. Without this, the airport still registered a profit.

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