airport Zurich

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airport Zurich
Zurich Airport 2010 logo.svg
Aerial view of the Zurich Airport, April 2019.jpg

47 ° 27 '30 "  N , 8 ° 32' 53"  E Coordinates: 47 ° 27 '30 "  N , 8 ° 32' 53"  E

Height above MSL 432 m (1417  ft )
Transport links
Distance from the city center 13 km north of Zurich
Street highway A51

Hauptstrasse 4

train InterCity , EuroCity , InterRegio
Local transport S 2 S 16 S 24 Glattalbahn , buses
Basic data
opening June 14, 1948 (runway 10/28)
0April 8, 1953 (Flughafen)
operator Zurich Airport AG
surface 880 ha
Terminals 2; 3 docks
Passengers 31.1 million (2018)
Air freight 493'222 t (2018)
278,458 (2018)
( PAX per year)
36 million
Employees 27,000 (total at Zurich Airport, 2017)
10/28 2500 m × 60 m concrete
14/32 3300 m × 60 m concrete / asphalt
16/34 3700 m × 60 m concrete

i1 i3

i7 i10 i12 i14

The Zurich Airport ( IATA code : ZRH , ICAO : LSZH , formerly Zurich-Kloten Airport ) is the largest airport of Switzerland . It is operated by the listed Flughafen Zürich AG .

In 2018, the airport received the World Travel Award in the “Europe's leading airport” category for the 16th time in a row . The Skytrax Award also counts Zurich Airport among millions of travelers each year as one of the 10 best airports in the world, in 2017 as the first in the “20–30 million passengers” category.

The airport is located 13 kilometers north of the center of Zurich in the municipality of Kloten . The airport area also extends to the communities of Opfikon , Rümlang , Oberglatt and Winkel . The airport serves as a hub for several airlines and is the home airport for Swiss , Edelweiss Air and Helvetic Airways . The headquarters of the Swiss Air Rescue Service (Rega) is also located at Zurich Airport. Together with Geneva and Basel airports , it is one of the three so-called national airports in Switzerland.


The runway system at Zurich Airport consists of three runways : 16/34 with 3700 m length, 14/32 with 3300 m length and 10/28 with 2500 m length. The airport has three docks A, B and E.

Fingerdock B was the oldest dock and was temporarily shut down with the opening of Dock E in autumn 2003 in response to the falling passenger numbers. From August 2005 to summer 2008 it served as a so-called event dock, which could be rented for events. From autumn 2008, the existing Dock B was completely dismantled and replaced by a new building at the same location at the end of 2011.

Dock E is located between slopes 10/28, 16/34 and 14/32. It is accessed by the Skymetro air-cushion track , a road tunnel and underground baggage conveyor belts. The Airside Center between Dock A and Dock B is the passenger turntable and new landmark of Zurich Airport. The Skymetro station to Dock E is located in its basement. Since the Airside Center went into operation, Zurich Airport has been a “One Terminal” airport a passenger can go through passport controls at any location and still get to their gate or the right baggage conveyor belt.

In 2018, Zurich Airport counted around 31.1 million passengers and 278,000 flight movements. The freight volume was 493,000 tons.

Transport links

The airport can be reached via a junction of the A51 motorway , Hauptstrasse 4 and various airport tangents that open up the airport primarily to central and eastern Switzerland.

Since the airport route opened in 1980, all long-distance trains between Zurich and Winterthur have run through the underground Zurich Airport station , under the terminal car parks. The station is also served by lines S2, S16 and S24 of the Zurich S-Bahn . Travel times between the airport and Zurich HB are between 9 and 12 minutes.

Local transport is provided by numerous regional bus lines, as well as tram lines 10 and 12 on the Glattalbahn .


History and project planning

Map of Zurich Airport

In the Zurich area , a mixed civil and military flight operation developed from 1909 on the Dübendorf airfield , northeast of the city. The airfield was home to the Swissair predecessor Ad Astra Aero from 1919 , as was Swissair itself from 1932 . In 1939, when the Second World War broke out, civilian air traffic had to be discontinued for strategic military reasons. Although Swissair was allowed to resume scheduled flight operations in September 1940, this remained modest during the war. In March, the government council of the canton of Zurich commissioned a study to examine possible locations for the construction of a major airport. A consortium of engineers and architects under the direction of the company Locher & Cie said in its report against previously discussed expansion options on the Dübendorf airfield and recommended instead the construction of a separate civil airfield in partially wooded marsh area of between Kloten and Oberglatt nearby parade ground . In August 1943, the Federal Military Department declared that it was prepared in principle to give up the arsenal "in the higher national interest".

Locher & Cie submitted «Project I» to the government council on December 31, 1943. Four hard-surfaced slopes were planned and, together with the high-rise buildings, a required area of ​​472 hectares . Without the land purchase, the project would have cost 87 million francs . The government council found the costs too high and ordered a revision. "Project II" of April 29, 1944 still envisaged an area of ​​290 hectares and costs of 65 million, but the government council demanded a further reduction in size. For “Project III” of July 31, 1944, 54.4 million and 215 hectares were required. The project still met the requirements of an intercontinental airport. The government council formally approved it and submitted it to the Federal Council . He explicitly emphasized that the Zurich project was "far superior" to the planned (and ultimately failed) Swiss central airport Utzenstorf near Bern .

In December 1944, the responsible Federal Councilor, Enrico Celio , wrote in a letter to his counterparts in favor of Zurich-Kloten, and a month later the governments of the cantons of eastern and central Switzerland as well as Ticino. The National Council and the Council of States followed this view and on June 22, 1945 approved the “ Federal Decree on the Expansion of Civil Airfields”. Basel , Bern and Geneva should receive smaller continental airports and be supported with a cost share of 30 percent. The Zurich project was awarded the status of an intercontinental airport and the highest possible subsidy rate of 35 percent. In fact, Geneva-Cointrin was the first Swiss intercontinental airport in 1946, since the Geneva cantonal government had created a fait accompli during the war without waiting for federal contributions.

After the end of the war, no temporary airfield was planned in Kloten, but a fully developed airport. For this reason, Dübendorf airfield was expanded for the transition period, using steel plates from stocks of the US armed forces . In May 1945, the Zurich government council approved the revised "Project IV", which was based on the ICAO standards first established at the end of 1944 . The sale of the airfield site was completed at the end of December 1945: the military department sold 655 hectares of the arsenal to the canton of Zurich for around 10 million francs and did not demand any real compensation, for which the canton in return for the existing facilities of the civil airfield in Dübendorf worth 4.5 million renounced.

First construction stage: civil engineering

On February 25, 1946, the Zurich Cantonal Council approved a construction loan of 36.8 million. The cantonal referendum of May 5, 1946 resulted in clear approval with 105,705 votes to 29,372. «Project IV» was never carried out because it was further developed by adapting to the ICAO standards, which were then rapidly changing. Instead of four slopes, only three were planned in the new “Project V” of May 20, 1946. With «Project VI» of October 9, 1946, the dimensions of all three slopes were increased. Finally, the slightly modified “Project VII” of December 20, 1947 was implemented. Within three years, the draft on the drawing board had changed completely, from a pure grass airfield with a four runway system without taxiways to a runway airfield with a three runway system and paved taxiways. The staged execution made it possible to react to changes without having to impose a complete construction freeze.

The actual construction work began on May 5, 1946 with the relocation of the Altbach. The 1900 m long west runway 10/28 was the first runway to go into operation on June 14, 1948, on which a Douglas DC-4 from Swissair was the first to take off for London . Government councilor Jakob Kägi held a speech on behalf of the canton as the airport owner for the inauguration of the new runway and the start of provisional flight operations. Already on November 17, 1948, the 2,600 m long blind landing runway 16/34 (runway with instrument landing system ) went into operation, to which the seven-member government council appeared in full. In the presence of invited guests from politics and the media as well as representatives of construction companies and airlines, the new airfield was inaugurated, with the move of the entire civil flight operations from Dübendorf to Kloten and full operations at the new Zurich airfield.

The 1535 m long Bisen slope 02/20, which belonged to the three-slope system from 1948, was of little importance. Due to the crosswind standards applicable at the time , the runway facing the Bise was designed to ensure the airport's all-weather suitability. In the following revisions of its standards, the ICAO increased the crosswind tolerances for aircraft to such an extent that the runway was put out of service after a good ten years.

First construction stage: high-rise buildings

The character of a provisional facility was supported - despite full operation - by the lack of high-rise buildings, in particular the "airport" which had been planned since 1946. Instead, a growing "barracks village" stood east of the reserved building site. On October 27, 1948, the canton outsourced the development, construction and operation of the high-rise buildings to the newly founded Flughafen-Immobilien-Gesellschaft (FIG), a mixed-economy stock corporation in which the public sector held half (Canton Zurich 22.5%, City of Zurich 18%, Zürcher Kantonalbank 5%, City of Winterthur 3.6% and municipality of Kloten 0.9%). The FIG took over projects that had already started and was able to hand over the completed Shipyard I to Swissair in late autumn 1948 for use, followed by offices for the technical departments of Swissair, which meant that they could finally leave Dübendorf by the end of April 1949. Further workshops, the striking arched hangar and the heating center I for the heat supply were completed by the end of 1949.

Based on “Project V”, the airport had already been designated as a convex building at the head of the airport in mid-1946 . In the following four years a total of 24 construction projects were created for the airport before the FIG commissioned the construction of the airport in November 1950 according to plans by Alfred and Heinrich Oeschger . At the beginning of 1951, the piling work for the airport began and the construction work lasted around two years. With the commissioning on April 9, 1953, the barrack village could be given up. The new building consisted of a central passenger wing, flanked by a restaurant and an office wing. There was also a 200 m long spectator terrace.

Five years after the inauguration of the airfield, the commissioning of the airport was taken as an occasion for another opening ceremony. The three-day celebration from August 29th to 31st, 1953, was aimed in particular at the population. Swissair and other airlines presented their aircraft or offered special flights. The highlight of the festival was the big air show on August 31st, which clearly exceeded the number of visitors on the other two days. Tens of thousands of visitors attended the performances and took possession of the airport's terraces, the gate, the meadow between the gate and the western runway or the Holberg.

The first years of operation

Not unexpectedly, the construction costs were significantly exceeded. Several meters of high moor were removed and filled with material from the Holberg; The concrete area had also increased from the 420,000 m² projected in the meantime to a good 611,000 m². In addition, the former arsenal area was searched for duds , of which a total of 157 came to light. The costs for "Project IV", estimated at 59.5 million francs in 1946, had risen to 106 million francs by the time the civil engineering works according to "Project VII" were completed in July 1949. Both chambers of the Federal Assembly concluded their political appraisal with the “Federal Decree on the Payment of Additional Federal Contributions to the Construction of Zurich-Kloten Airport” of September 29, 1949. The federal government participated with 27.1 million and doubled the contribution to the air traffic control facilities. For its part, the Zurich Cantonal Council granted a supplementary loan on February 13, 1950. The voters accepted this on May 7, 1950 with 73,551 votes to 59,088 (yes share of 55.45%).

Investments in the airport's infrastructure continued unabated. On December 7, 1953, in addition to the instrument landing system (ILS CAT I) for approaches to runway 16, a precision approach radar (PAR) was put into operation. The engine workshop in the shipyard area was handed over to Swissair for use on May 1, 1954. Commissioned by the Federal Government with air traffic control at the airport Radio Switzerland AG took place on December 6, 1954 their first panorama - Radar on the Klotener Holberg in operation. The number of passengers at the airport rose noticeably from 1952 with the introduction of the tourist class on long-haul flights. The jet age was only announced hesitantly, since from 1953 a series of accidents involving the world's first jet airliner , the De Havilland DH.106 «Comet», led to strong reservations among the airlines. The decision by Swissair to procure two copies of the Douglas DC-8-32 after the DC-8 family had been announced in mid-1955 had a signal effect - the expansion of the runway system to ICAO class A1 was imminent for the foreseeable future. The organization of the airport was reassembled on January 1, 1956, the "Aviation" department of the cantonal building department - the infrastructure owner - and the airport administration were merged in the new cantonal "Office for Air Traffic" (AfL).

Second construction stage

Caravelle from Swissair 1961

In 1954 Locher & Cie was commissioned to design various project variants with a view to the second construction phase. In March 1956, the canton submitted an expansion project to the Federal Council. In addition to the compulsory expansion of the slopes for the beginning of the “jet age”, this also envisaged the expansion of the public facilities that had meanwhile been overused and were already dominated by various temporary arrangements; two finger docks should defuse the situation. On October 12, 1956, the Federal Council recommended that Parliament accept the bill. On December 19, 1956, the Council of States approved the federal contribution of CHF 54.8 million (at a total cost of CHF 181.8 million), the National Council followed on March 7, 1957. The canton of Zurich's contribution of 74, 3 million francs, the rest should be raised by FIG and Swissair. The specific expansion project envisaged, among other things, the extension of the blind landing runway to 4000 m and the west runway to 3150 m as well as the expansion of the high-rise buildings. The opponents described the “super airport Kloten” as a “luxury” and criticized the canton for having “lost all measure”. Another topic that has been completely neglected by the planners was the problem of aircraft noise . With a high turnout of 72.3%, the expansion project failed in the cantonal referendum of June 23, 1957 with 97,603 votes to 83,196 (no share of 54.0%).

Just four days later, the Zurich government council commissioned a resized expansion project. The blind landing runway should only be 3700 m long, the west runway 2500 m; the construction of the finger docks was waived. Thus, the canton's share to be approved was CHF 49.1 million. The government also dealt much more closely with aircraft noise. On July 6, 1958, the electorate approved the project with 107,050 votes to 56,872 (yes 65.3%), with a participation of 65.6%. Due to time pressure - the landing of the first jet planes was planned for the following year - construction work began without waiting for the approval of the federal contributions. The National Council and Council of States granted a subsidy amounting to 55.6 million in December 1958 and March 1959, respectively. In 1959, the BOAC began regular flight connections with the revised Comet IV to Zurich, while the airport was still a construction site.

The first high-rise buildings were completed in 1960, and the airport, which was considered to be shapely, lost its symmetrical appearance. To the east, in the direction of the former barracks village, there was a new connection with office wing A1, office wing B and the air traffic control building. The "Freight West" building, which had been briefly added to during construction, was set off to accommodate additional office space. In the shipyard area in the southwest, the heating center II was put into operation and the shipyard II, designed for jet aircraft, was handed over to Swissair, promptly with the arrival of Sud Aviation "Caravelle III" and the Douglas DC-8-32 in May 1960. Finally received in summer In 1961, Swissair's on-board service, responsible for catering , built a new building between the airport head and the yard area.

The canton of Zurich acquired a further 135 hectares of land for the expansion of the civil engineering works; the construction work continued parallel to that on the high-rise buildings until the beginning of 1961. The apron areas were enlarged, particularly at the airport head and in the shipyard area; Likewise, the gate was expanded from 16 to 28 aircraft parking spaces, for which apron buses were procured. West runway 10/28 was extended by 600 meters to the west, in the direction of Rümlang , and released on January 1, 1961 at its new operating length of 2500 m. The blind landing runway 16/34 was extended by 400 m to the south in the direction of Opfikon and by 700 m to the north in the direction of Oberglatt . At its new operating length of 3700 m, it was released on March 15, 1961. When the work was completed, the surface area at the airport now comprised 1,013,000 m².

Expansion of the airport

Convair CV-440 of the SAS (1964)

Although practically all of the high-rise buildings in the second construction phase had been completed by the end of 1961, the expansion of the terminal building was still in the planning phase. After the passenger terminal with two finger docks had failed in the cantonal referendum, the FIG had worked out a new project by 1958. This envisaged a two-storey transverse hall in front of the airport on the land side, on whose two main floors arriving and departing passengers are functionally separated. For reasons of cost, the federal government demanded a considerable redimensioning, which led to an open dispute about the preferred design. When the conflict, described by the media as an "expert war", threatened to escalate, Federal President Willy Spühler invited to a conference on December 9, 1963, attended by representatives from the federal government and the canton.

During the conference, the FIG airport planners and the Canton of Zurich prevailed against the federal government. The canton only had to concessions for the commercial parts of the project such as B. make the restaurant wing. The Federal Council dispatch submitted on March 1, 1965, requested a federal contribution of 23.1 million to the total cost of 129.4 million. Of this, 2.1 million were earmarked for connecting the airport to the national road network and for preparing a connection to the planned (but never built) Zurich subway . The National Council and Council of States accepted the bill in October 1965, so that construction work could begin the following year. The motorway loop was in operation from 1968. Finally, with the opening of the last new hall wing on April 1, 1971, the expansion of the airport was completed. At this point in time, around ten years had passed since all other projects in the second construction phase had been completed - and work on the third construction phase had already been going on for three months.

Attack on an El Al Boeing

On February 18, 1969 four activists bombarded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) with Kalashnikov assault rifles , a Boeing 720B of El Al . The Shin Bet employee Mordechai Rachamim fired back with his pistol and killed the terrorist Abdel Mohsen Hassan. The other three assassins were each sentenced to twelve years ' imprisonment. With the attack, a discussion about airport security began in Switzerland that had never arisen before. On February 21, 1970, a package bomb exploded in the Convair CV-990 of Swissair on flight SR330 (Zurich – Tel Aviv) . All 47 people on board were killed in the crash near Würenlingen . Investigations revealed that a PFLP terrorist group carried out the bombing. The actual destination, however, had been an El-Al flight from Munich to Tel Aviv, whose mail had been sent to Swissair via Zurich due to a long delay. The three terrorists convicted in Switzerland and other comrades-in-arms arrested abroad were, however, released in September 1970 by coordinated aircraft hijackings by the PFLP. The flights SR 100 (Zurich – New York), TW741 of the TWA , PA93 of Pan Am and BA775 of BOAC were affected .

Third construction stage

Installation of the multi-concrete open-space heating on 2 × 16,000 m² at Zurich-Kloten Airport in 1972
Lufthansa Boeing 727 (1973)

In January 1969, the Zurich Cantonal Council approved a loan for preparatory work for the third expansion phase. The project that was then worked out clearly exceeded the previous dimensions. It was planned to extend the existing runways, a 3300 m long runway, additional taxiways, the enlargement of the pier to 47 parking spaces, a new terminal with finger dock, two parking garages , additional technical buildings, an airport train station and a new shipyard . There were also various extensions and conversions of existing buildings. The costs were estimated at 777.6 million francs (not including the air traffic control building and train station). Since this project hardly differed from the "super airport" rejected in 1957, criticism was immediately voiced again from the "Protection Association of the Population of Zurich Airport" (SBFZ) and the municipality of Höri, which is located directly in the approach path . The SBFZ even called for the resumption of the central airport concept, which was dropped in 1945 - instead of in Utzenstorf this time in the Grosse Moos , with two runways protruding into Lake Neuchâtel .

The proponents of the Zurich airport expansion argued primarily with the economic benefit. In order to take the wind out of the sails of the aircraft noise criticism, the government and cantonal council are drafting an aircraft noise law (including a night flight ban ), which should be submitted to the referendum at the same time as the expansion proposal. After the Cantonal Council approved both bills in July 1970, the referendum took place on September 27, 1970. The expansion proposal was approved with 103,867 votes to 64,192 (61.8% yes), the Aircraft Noise Act with 134,501 votes to 32,590 (80.5% yes). In the following year, the federal councils decided on a federal contribution of 240.3 million. Construction work on the third stage also began in 1971. In 1973 Shipyard III, Freight Hall East, Car Park F and the Center for General Aviation were completed. In 1974, the maintenance depot, an office building and parking garage E were added, in 1975 the apron, parking garage B and Terminal B with finger dock, 1976, located in the parking garage B shopping and service center Airport Plaza .

Due to numerous adjustments to the construction project, there were additional costs. The Zurich voters accepted the additional credit of 25.8 million on December 7, 1975 with 178,723 votes to 87,303 (67.2% yes). The canton supplemented this loan with ordinary and extraordinary budget loans from the building authorities. In addition, in March 1976, the federal councils approved an additional federal contribution of 39.7 million. As the centerpiece of the third stage, runway 14/32 was opened on April 1, 1976, increasing the capacity by a third. In the beginning, the new runway was used exclusively for landing traffic. The railway connection, which was approved by parliament in a separate federal resolution in 1975, was still outstanding. Since it was a project of the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), the cost distribution differed greatly. Of the 285 million total costs, SBB bore 60%, the federal government 33% and the Canton of Zurich 7%. The project comprised the Zurich Airport train station below Terminal B (which had been under construction since 1971) and a new line between Bassersdorf and Glattbrugg . After nine years of construction, the airport line was officially opened on May 29, 1980 .

Fourth construction stage

PanAm Boeing 747 in front of the new control tower (1985)
Terminals A and B in Zurich-Kloten 1991 with long-haul aircraft DC-10, MD-11 and Jumbo Jet from Swissair and Balair Airbus A-310

In the second half of the 1970s, the volume of traffic continued to rise sharply, which is why the Canton of Zurich, FIG and Swissair worked out a project for the fourth construction phase. With 142,240 to 104,775 votes (57.6%), the citizens of Zurich accepted a loan of 48 million francs on September 28, 1980 for civil engineering works that were part of the upcoming construction work. Also in 1980, the Federal Office for Civil Aviation published a new airfield concept that replaced the one from 1945. The focus was now on the qualitative expansion, taking into account spatial planning and environmental protection considerations.

Based on this concept, the federal councils approved the “1981–1985 construction program”. This provided for investments of 393.3 million Swiss francs in Zurich-Kloten, but the subsidy contribution of 10.3% was significantly lower than at the Geneva and Basel-Mulhouse airports . This was justified with the pent-up demand of the two other major Swiss airports. The central component of the fourth stage was the finger dock in Terminal A with 13 dock positions. A new control tower , a baggage sorting system, an additional parking garage, waiting rooms and an operations center for the aircraft crews were also planned. The Zurich government council later also decided to renew the damaged western runway, which had to be closed for two and a half months for this purpose in the summer of 1985. Fingerdock A was put into operation on November 1, 1985, the new 41 m high control tower on April 29, 1986.

An expansion of the airport's cargo facilities was also planned. A corresponding loan of 57 million was rejected in the referendum of September 6, 1987 with 106,722 votes to 98,663 (52.0% no). The project, which was then revised and approved by the Zurich Cantonal Council in 1989, focused on the more efficient use of the existing facilities and thus enabled the handling of an additional 100,000 tons of freight annually.

Fifth construction stage ("Airport 2000")

The Skymetro at Zurich Airport

The cantonal popular initiative "for moderate air traffic", submitted in January 1991, intended to limit the airport to its current status, ie neither to allow more flight movements nor to expand the infrastructure. In the vote of September 26, 1993, however, it had no chance and was clearly rejected with 235,531 to 112,476 votes (67.6%). Nine months later, the Zurich government council submitted a loan application for CHF 873 million to the cantonal council. The fifth construction phase, known as “Airport 2000” and costing a total of 2.4 billion euros, was intended to replace outdated systems and further expand existing systems. The heart of the project was the construction of a third terminal, Dock E “Midfield” between the three runways. The Skymetro hovercraft , a road tunnel and underground baggage conveyor belts were necessary for its development . The construction of the new “Airside Center” passenger turntable was also part of the fifth stage. The Cantonal Council approved the project at the end of February 1995. It passed the last hurdle in the referendum on June 25, 1995, when it was approved with 224,668 votes to 105,859 (68.0% yes). After almost nine years of construction, the project was completed in 2004.

"Zurich 2010" project

With the Zurich 2010 project, the Schengen Agreement was implemented and security controls centralized. Important sub-projects were the renovation of Dock B, the construction of a new central security control building (SKG) and the expansion and division of the Skymetro. The demolition of the old Dock B began in July 2009 and the new construction began in October 2010. On November 22, 2011, the airport celebrated the opening of the SKG and Dock B with 350 invited guests, Federal Councilor Doris Leuthard and Zurich Government Councilor Ernst Stocker Dock B and the SKG began their official operations on December 1, 2011. The modern Dock B has nine dock stands and enables flexible handling of Schengen and non-Schengen flights on two levels, the spectator terrace on the roof has an accessible apron tower and binoculars for media.

Development since 2010

Since March 28, 2010, Singapore Airlines has regularly served Zurich with the Airbus A380 . After London-Heathrow and Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle , Zurich was the third European airport on which the A380 operates in a scheduled service. On January 1, 2014, Emirates Airlines also started flying an A380 to the airport. With this she replaced her afternoon connection, which was carried out with the smaller Boeing 777 . In contrast to Singapore Airlines, Emirates did not cancel its second connection in the evening, so the daily capacity increased to around 870 seats. Since October 1, 2015, the Emirates evening course has also been served by an A380.

In 2016, runway 28 was equipped with the EMAS emergency braking system, which is intended to prevent the end of the runway from rolling over in the event of an aborted take-off or landing.

After some office buildings had been demolished, construction of the new baggage sorting systems between the Operations Center and Terminal 1 began in the spring of 2018 with a total investment of CHF 500 million.

As of 2020, the marketing of all advertising space at the airport was transferred from Clear Channel to APG .

The main terminal 1 is being completely rebuilt - including the Skyguide air traffic control tower. Construction is scheduled to start in 2021, with completion expected in 2030. In addition to the old structure, the expected increase in passenger numbers is the main reason for the upcoming construction work. "The forecasts suggest that the number of passengers arriving at Zurich Airport each year, departing or changing planes, will grow from 29 million today to 50 million by 2030," says the airport operator's personnel booklet.


There is a spectator terrace on Docks B and E. The viewing terrace on Dock B has a large playground. The spectator terraces are very popular with spotters, as the view of aircraft taking off is very good. For aircraft spotters, there are additional places around the airport, from which you have a good view of aircraft taking off and landing.

A planned new hangar (with more capacity at the business terminals) is to create new spaces for spotters.

"The Circle"

In February 2009 Flughafen Zürich AG (FZAG) launched a three-stage architecture competition for the “ The Circle at Zurich Airport ” development. Near the terminals, around 180,000 square meters of usable space for services were to be created on a floor area of ​​37,000 square meters. Around 45,000 square meters will be occupied by two hotels and the congress area, which will be operated by the Hyatt Corporation. At the end of October 2011, FZAG submitted the building application to the city of Kloten, which issued the building permit on March 6, 2012. The groundbreaking ceremony for the development, scheduled for the end of 2013, was postponed to the beginning of 2015. "The Circle" is expected to create around 5,000 new jobs, with an investment volume of around one billion Swiss francs . The foundation stone was laid on March 24, 2017 and the opening is expected to take place in the first half of 2020; however, not all six parts of the building will be finished even then. It has since been announced that the opening will take place in September 2020.

Demolition work in the area of ​​the overbuilding concerned car park 5, the Butzenbühlring 13 property with the AlpenRock House discotheque , which has been in existence since 1969, and parking level 40, which was to be dismantled and for the extension of car park 70 at the works yard. In December 2013 the insurance group Swiss Life became a partner with a 49 percent stake and in mid-March 2014 the University Hospital Zurich (USZ) intended to operate a 10,000 square meter health center for outpatient and short inpatient treatment. On December 5, 2014, the realization of the first stage became definitive. In August 2016, the green light was given for the second stage. On February 14, 2018, the airport operator announced 3 additional tenants. Microsoft Switzerland will relocate its headquarters to the airport and, as a partner of Flughafen Zürich AG, will be involved in the development of a business district, according to the announcement. As a further tenant, the IWG Group will offer flexibly usable office space with the co-working concept "Spaces". As the third tenant, the software company Abraxas from Eastern Switzerland wants to merge the company's Zurich activities in the Circle. It was also announced that the hotel group Hyatt International wants to relocate its headquarters for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Southwest Asia to the Circle and the software company SAP plans to move its Swiss headquarters. And the SAP consultant Itelligence wants to move its Swiss headquarters to the Circle in spring 2021.

security and environment

Airport fire brigade

Zurich airport at night.
Main station of the airport fire brigade

The airport fire brigade was officially called the Zurich Airport Professional Fire Brigade until December 31, 2007 . As the professional and company fire brigade of Flughafen Zürich AG, she is responsible for fighting fires at Zurich Airport and is available around the clock. In an emergency, the airport guard must be able to reach any location on the airfield site, an area of ​​880 hectares, in a maximum of three minutes in accordance with international standards. Your vehicles have extremely high-acceleration engines and large-capacity tanks.

The fire brigade also has an operations control center. This not only coordinates the airport's rescue services, it also alerts the fire brigades in the northern part of the canton. A total of 77 fire brigades are called up by the operations control center, including 2 professional and 13 base fire brigades. The ambulance service Zurich North, the ambulance service Spital Bülach , the ambulance service Winterthur and, since April 1, 2008, the ambulance service of the canton of Schaffhausen are also available. Other tasks of the operations control center include alerting a large animal rescue service, a personal emergency call and location system and coordinating the emergency medical service for several communities. In addition, there are 3800 fire alarm criteria in the operations control center. The operations control center receives around 150,000 telephone calls every year.

On January 1, 2008, the airport fire brigade, together with the rescue service and the operations center, were organizationally transferred to the “Protection and Rescue” department in the Zurich Police Department.

The airport fire brigade records over 1,000 missions per year. In 2004, 260 of these involved incidents involving aircraft , including emergency or safety landings .

Refueling dispensers, Ramp Safety, Airport Authority and Follow Me

Vehicles that not only cross taxiways and runways reserved for aircraft on the designated streets, but also drive on them for business reasons, must be equipped with a transponder and radio device and can thus be tracked on tracking websites (e.g. flight trackers). The transponder symbol or the radio name for the Follow-Me vehicles is Zebra.

In 2014, five companies were licensed to refuel at the airport, operating 16 tankers and 28 dispensers.

Ambulance service at Zurich Airport

The ambulance service at Zurich Airport was set up around 1982 as the original “fire fighting ambulance”. It was primarily used to protect fire brigade personnel in the event of a fire, and secondarily as a medical aid to take care of injured passengers. It was quickly recognized that there was a steadily growing need for rescue equipment for the population outside the airport, too. Often adjoining hospitals that covered this service could not cope with this due to capacity bottlenecks. There were no corresponding structures in the Zürcher Unterland at the time. As part of the privatization of the airport to form a public limited company Unique (Flughafen Zürich AG) in 2000, the ambulance service was separated from the fire brigade as a separate division in the Safety & Security department.

In the last year of its existence in 2007, the ambulance service at Zurich Airport carried out around 5800 missions with 36 paramedics and three trainees. Most of the operations were carried out in the region around the airport, at the time there were 28 contracting municipalities. Three ambulances were always ready for use during the day and two ambulances at night, which was done in two shifts of twelve hours each. The teams were each on duty four times a day (twice a day and twice a night). As a novelty, the changed labor law was consistently applied to the Zurich Airport ambulance service. H. as one of the few employers, the working time of twelve hours without deduction (“attendance time” / effective working time) was fully taken into account.

There was no permanently installed emergency doctor system at the airport. The paramedics are equipped with advanced skills that allow the administration of medication according to algorithms. As part of a quality control of the measures carried out, all operations were checked by the medical director. At the same time, there was an annual review of drug and algorithm knowledge. Only after passing the written and practical test was the paramedic authorized to administer medication for another year. If an emergency doctor was needed, the relevant resources of the partner organizations REGA (helicopter) or the NEF of Protection and Rescue Zurich could be used.

SUS project After two project studies, Unique (Flughafen Zürich AG) made the decision in the summer of 2007 to outsource the rescue service together with the operations center and the professional fire brigade and the police department of the city of Zurich (Zurich protection and rescue) for an amount of 22 million Swiss francs for sale. This was also due to the needs of the city of Zurich, since their professional fire brigade in particular had problems with the long journeys to the north of the city of Zurich in meeting the required arrival times. At the same time, it was possible to dispense with the cost-intensive construction of a new base for rescue services and fire brigade in the rapidly growing north. A comprehensive contract was drawn up for the takeover of the entire department, which will be reassessed after ten years. The outsourcing resulted in massive internal restructuring, which replaces the previous form of organization. Since January 1, 2008, the base at the airport has been referred to as “Guard North”. With a strong positive operating result in 2007 and reduced staffing levels as of January 1, 2008, the catchment area of ​​the rescue service expanded to include the northern districts of Zurich- Schwamendingen , Seebach and Oerlikon .

Aircraft noise dispute

The aircraft noise dispute between Switzerland and Germany is a decades-long dispute that has been discussed at the highest political level since 2000. It is about aircraft noise over municipalities in southern Germany caused by aircraft flying to Zurich Airport in Switzerland.

Both sides declare to strive for a fair distribution of the burden. But the German side counts the number of flight movements and finds it unfair that 90 percent of all approaches lead over German territory (before 2002), while the Swiss side counts the noise pollution according to the people affected. According to this, it is unfair if around 210,000 people in Switzerland and around 750 people in Germany have had to endure aircraft noise of 50 decibels around Zurich Airport since 2003.

After a state treaty negotiated in 2001 was rejected by the Swiss parliament, the German side unilaterally limited the number of overflights in 2003 and completely banned arrivals and departures between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. (weekdays) and 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. (weekends). Since then, the dispute over aircraft noise has largely taken place within Switzerland in the canton of Zurich and its neighboring cantons of Aargau , Thurgau and Schaffhausen . Instead of counting aircraft movements, the actual strength and duration of aircraft noise exposure is preferred as a measure of distribution, which is politically implemented in the Zurich aircraft noise index .

After Germany insisted on restricting the number of flights for years and rejected new negotiations, the Swiss government, during a visit by Chancellor Merkel in April 2008, achieved that a German-Swiss working group should first create an objective basis for the comparability of aircraft noise exposure.

The distribution of arrivals and departures on the various runways has also been a purely local issue since the German restrictions, as has the regulations on the night flight ban . The "Protection Association of the Population around Zurich Airport" wants rules that are as restrictive as possible. On the other hand, the "Zurich Cosmopolitan Committee", which has also existed for 50 years, is committed to ensuring that the airport functions as well as possible.


  • On November 24, 1951, a Douglas DC-4 operated by Israeli El Al ( aircraft registration number 4X-ADN ) crashed into a forest three kilometers northeast of Zurich Airport on a cargo flight from Rome with textiles on board. Six of the seven crew members were killed.
  • On December 19, 1953, a Convair CV-240 from the Belgian Sabena (OO-AWO) was flown into the ground 2.5 kilometers from runway 16 on approach to Zurich Airport. During the night approach in bad weather, the pilots had flown well below the glide path. One passenger was killed in this CFIT ( Controlled flight into terrain ), the other 39 and all three crew members survived.
  • On November 24, 1956, an Ilyushin Il-12 B of the Czechoslovakian airline ČSA (OK-DBP) crashed into an agricultural area 13 kilometers after take-off from Zurich-Kloten Airport, only 500 m from the southern outskirts of Wasterkingen , presumably due to engine problems used area. All 23 passengers and crew members died.
  • On January 10, 2000, a Saab 340 operated by Swiss Crossair (HB-AKK) crashed a good two minutes after taking off from runway 28. The machine crashed about five kilometers from the end of the runway into an open field north of the town of Nassenwil (see also Crossair flight 498 ) .
  • On November 24, 2001, an Avro RJ100 from Crossair (HB-IXM) fell below the minimum descent altitude when approaching Zurich Airport and the aircraft was flown off-road. In this CFIT ( Controlled flight into terrain ) of 33 people on board 24 were killed. The machine was on the flight from Berlin-Tegel to Zurich when it touched a tree about 5 kilometers from runway 28 in the dark and light sleet and flew into a forest (see also Crossair flight 3597 ) .
  • On March 15, 2011, two Swiss A320s received take-off clearance almost simultaneously on the intersecting runways 16 and 28. In response to this serious incident, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation commissioned a comprehensive analysis of the operating procedures.
  • On September 27, 2013, the nose landing gear of a De Havilland DHC-8-400 operated by Croatia Airlines could not be extended. The plane took off from Zagreb and was scheduled to land in Zurich. When approaching Zurich Airport, the pilots noticed that the aircraft's nose landing gear was not extended. Then they took off and tried for 40 minutes to fully extend the landing gear, but they did not succeed. The pilots decided to make an emergency landing in Zurich on runway 14. None of the 60 passengers were injured on the subsequent landing at 20:17. Runway 14 was then closed until the end of operations. After 15 minutes, air traffic on the two other lanes could be resumed as usual.

Zurich Airport in numbers

Passengers and aircraft movements

Statistics on Zurich Airport from 1982 to 2014 on passenger, transfer passenger and freight volumes as well as flight movements
Model of the airport
year Passengers Flight movements Seat load factor Freight volume post Office
1950 157,709 15,372
1960 1,226,871 49'272
1970 4,160,234 96,570
1980 7,627,650 118,394
1985 9,103,802 128,148
1990 12,278,088 172'471
1995 14,926,943 208,851
2000 22,450,494 291,044
2001 20,818,271 274,234
2002 17,789,551 282,154 64.1% 421,811 t 22,990 t
2003 17,024,937 269,392 64.8% 389,843 tons 21,650 t
2004 17,252,906 266,660 65.1% 363,537 t 22,963 t
2005 17,884,652 267,363 66.7% 372,415 t 21,475 t
2006 19,237,216 260,786 69.8% 363,325 t 22,853 t
2007 20,739,113 268,476 70.1% 374,264 t 25,343 t
2008 22,099,233 274,991 70.6% 387,671 t 32,172 t
2009 21,926,872 262,121 71.6% 344,415 t 28,662 t
2010 22,878,251 268,765 72.9% 411,037 tons
2011 24,337,954 279001 72.8% 415,035 t
2012 24,802,390 270,027 74.4% 418,751 t 35,606 t
2013 24,865,138 262,227 75.1% 415,362 t 37,062 t
2014 25,477,662 264,970 k. A. 429,830 t 34,345 t
2015 26,281,228 265,095 k. A. 411,780 t 27,981 t
2016 27,666,428 269,160 75.8% 433,577 t 31,282 t
2017 29,396,094 270,453 77.3% 490,452 t 30,690
2018 31,113,488 278,458 77.9% 493'222 t 26,213
2019 31,507,692 275,329 k. A. 451,827 tons 27'007

Destinations and airlines

year Flight destinations
in scheduled services
countries Airlines Charter / special
airlines *
2002 142 71 61 48
2003 143 69 67 41
2004 146 70 77 42
2005 148 88 78 42
2006 151 63 73 30th
2007 159 64 72 28
2008 174 65 67 22nd
2009 178 67 65 13
2010 179 70 68 18th
2011 196 67 70 15th
2012 188 66 65 13
2013 184 64 61 12
2014 186 62 61 15th
2015 169 60 59 15th
2016 178 65 68 k. A.
2017 185 66 72 k. A.
2018 206 68 77 k. A.
2019 203 69 77 k. A.

* Charter / special airlines with more than five landings per year

Top 5 airlines

year According to passenger numbers (market share in percent)
1. 2. 3. 4th 5.
2002 SWISS (47.1%) Crossair (8.3%) Swissair (4.7%) Lufthansa (4.3%) Edelweiss (3.4%)
2003 SWISS (56.3%) Lufthansa (4.2%) Edelweiss (2.8%) British Airways (2.6%) easyJet (2.5%)
2004 SWISS (47.9%) Lufthansa (4.8%) Air Berlin (3.1%) Edelweiss (2.9%) British Airways (2.4%)
2005 SWISS (50.6%) Lufthansa (4.5%) Air Berlin (3.9%) British Airways (2.7%) Helvetic Airways (2.6%)
2006 SWISS (53.6%) Lufthansa (5.0%) Air Berlin (5.0%) Edelweiss (2.8%) British Airways (2.7%)
2007 SWISS (55.0%) Air Berlin (5.4%) Lufthansa (4.7%) British Airways (2.4%) Edelweiss (2.2%)
2008 SWISS (56.3%) Air Berlin (6.5%) Lufthansa (3.6%) Edelweiss (2.3%) British Airways (1.8%)
2009 SWISS (59.0%) Air Berlin (6.8%) Lufthansa (4.3%) British Airways (2.1%) Edelweiss (1.9%)
2010 SWISS (56.2%) Air Berlin (6.9%) Edelweiss (3.6%) Lufthansa (3.5%) British Airways (2.0%)
2011 SWISS (55.9%) Air Berlin (6.7%) Edelweiss (3.9%) Lufthansa (3.8%) British Airways (1.6%)
2012 SWISS (56.3%) Air Berlin (6.1%) Edelweiss (3.8%) Lufthansa (3.6%) British Airways (1.7%)
2013 SWISS (56.8%) Air Berlin (5.5%) Edelweiss (3.7%) Lufthansa (3.6%) British Airways (1.7%)
2014 SWISS (55.4%) Air Berlin (5.6%) Edelweiss (4.0%) Lufthansa (2.8%) British Airways (2.2%)
2015 SWISS (55%) Air Berlin (6%) Edelweiss (5%) Germanwings (3%) Lufthansa (2%)
2016 SWISS (53%) Air Berlin (6%) Edelweiss (5%) Lufthansa (2%) Germanwings (2%)
2017 SWISS (52%) Edelweiss (6%) Air Berlin (4%) Eurowings (3%) easyJet (2%)
2018 SWISS (53%) Edelweiss (8%) easyJet (3%) Eurowings (3%) British Airways (2%)
2019 SWISS (54%) Edelweiss (9%) easy Jet (3%) Eurowings (3%) British Airways (2%)
year According to flight movements (market share in percent)
1. 2. 3. 4th 5.
2002 SWISS (48.4%) Crossair (12.2%) Lufthansa (7.8%) Swissair (2.5%) Air France (2.4%)
2003 SWISS (58.5%) Lufthansa (7.0%) Air France (2.5%) British Airways (2.3%) SAS (1.7%)
2004 SWISS (48.2%) Lufthansa (7.0%) Helvetic Airways (3.4%) Air France (2.6%) Air Berlin (2.3%)
2005 SWISS (47.9%) Lufthansa (7.0%) Helvetic Airways (4.0%) Air Berlin (3.1%) Air France (2.6%)
2006 SWISS (51.3%) Lufthansa (6.8%) Air Berlin (4.2%) Air France (2.7%) Helvetic Airways (2.6%)
2007 Incorrect publication in the 2007 annual report
2008 SWISS (52.9%) Lufthansa (6.3%) Air Berlin (5.3%) Air France (3.1%) British Airways (2.3%)
2011 SWISS (54.6%) Air Berlin (5.6%) Lufthansa (5.2%) Edelweiss (2.7%) k. A.
2017 SWISS (53.5%) Edelweiss (4.5%) Air Berlin (4.0%) Eurowings (3.1%) k. A.
2018 SWISS (53.9%) Edelweiss (5.9%) Easyjet (3.4%) Eurowings (3.4%) k. A.

Frequencies of aviation radio

The aeronautical radio traffic at Zurich airport via the following frequencies :

  • Zurich Arrival West (Approach Control West) 118.005 MHz
  • Zurich Arrival East (Approach Control East) 135.230 MHz
  • Zurich Final (final approach control with heavy traffic) 125.330 MHz
  • Zurich Departure (departure control) 125.955 MHz
  • Zurich Tower 118.100 MHz
  • Zurich Tower (ADC 2) 120.230 MHz
  • Zurich Apron North (ground control north of runway 28) 121.855 MHz
  • Zurich Apron South (ground control south of runway 28) 121.755 MHz
  • Zurich Ground (additional ground control) 121.905 MHz
  • Zurich Delivery (route clearance) 121.930 MHz
  • Zurich ATIS Arrival (endless band with relevant information for approaches) 125.725 MHz
  • Zurich ATIS Departure (endless band with relevant information for departures) 129,000 MHz
  • Zurich VOLMET (weather report) 127.205 MHz

The aviation radio is also streamed on the Internet.

New frequencies in all positions except Zurich Tower. The European Commission has announced requirements for the language distance for European airspace. The regulation describes a Europe-wide procedure for the introduction of an 8.33 kHz frequency grid for VHF aeronautical radio.

Climate table

Zurich Airport, 1981–2010
Climate diagram
J F. M. A. M. J J A. S. O N D.
Temperature in ° Cprecipitation in mm
Average monthly temperatures and precipitation for Zurich Airport, 1981–2010
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 3.2 5.2 10.3 14.6 19.3 22.5 25.0 24.2 19.8 14.4 7.6 4.1 O 14.2
Min. Temperature (° C) −2.7 −2.7 0.5 3.4 7.8 11.0 13.2 12.8 9.3 5.8 1.1 −1.2 O 4.9
Temperature (° C) 0.2 1.1 5.2 8.9 13.5 16.7 18.9 18.2 14.2 9.8 4.2 1.4 O 9.4
Precipitation ( mm ) 65 60 74 74 108 110 115 108 90 87 76 81 Σ 1,048
Hours of sunshine ( h / d ) 1.5 2.7 4.0 5.3 6.0 6.8 7.4 6.7 5.0 3.0 1.7 1.1 O 4.3
Rainy days ( d ) 9.9 8.6 10.7 10.4 11.7 11.7 11.3 11.0 9.5 9.8 10.1 10.5 Σ 125.2
Humidity ( % ) 84 80 74 71 72 72 72 74 79 84 85 85 O 77.7
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

See also


  • Nils Güttler, Niki Rhyner, Max Stadler (eds.): Kloten Airport: Anatomie eineskompiziert Ort -Aether 01 , Intercom-Verlag, Zurich 2018, 208 pages. There will be at least two further editions (Aether 02 and Aether 03).
  • Sandro Fehr: The development of the third dimension. Origin and development of the civil aviation infrastructure in Switzerland, 1919–1990 . Chronos Verlag, Zurich 2014, ISBN 978-3-0340-1228-7 . (on-line)
  • Joachim Bauer, Werner Loosli, Jörn Wagenbach: Zurich Airport, 1948–2008 . AS Verlag, Zurich 2008, ISBN 978-3-909111-60-2 .
  • Zurich Airport Directorate: Zurich Airport, 1948–1998 . AS Verlag, Zurich 1998, ISBN 3-905111-29-2 .
  • Erich Meier, Office for Air Transport of the Canton of Zurich: Zurich Airport, 1948 – today . Office for Air Transport, Zurich 1978.
  • Alex Fellner: Zurich Airport in 125 pictures . Orell Füssli, Zurich 1973, ISBN 3-280-00651-1 .

Web links

Commons : Zurich Airport  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Zurich Airport  - Travel Guide

Individual evidence

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  5. Federal Office of Civil Aviation FOCA: State airports. Retrieved June 13, 2020 .
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  8. Michael von Ledebur: That's why we fly from Kloten - and not from Utzenstorf In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . June 14, 2018.
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  11. S. Fehr: The development of the third dimension. 2014, p. 153.
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  44. Communication thecircle ( Memento of the original from September 19, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. August 24, 2016. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
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