Geneva International Airport
|Geneva International Airport
Aéroport international de Genève
|IATA: GVA – ICAO: LSGG|
|Owner||City of Geneva|
|Operator||City of Geneva|
|Focus city for||Swiss International Air Lines|
|Elevation AMSL||1,411 ft / 430 m|
Geneva International Airport (IATA: GVA, ICAO: LSGG), formerly known as Cointrin Airport and officially as Genève Aéroport, is the international airport of Geneva, Switzerland. It is located 4 km (2.5 mi) northwest of the city centre. It reached 15 million passengers for the first time in December 2014 and serves as a hub for Swiss International Air Lines, easyJet Switzerland and Etihad Regional.
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 located within the commune of Meyrin and partially in the commune of Le Grand-Saconnex.
- 1 History
- 2 Facilities
- 3 Airlines and destinations
- 4 Other facilities
- 5 Ground transportation
- 6 Incidents and accidents
- 7 Statistics
- 8 Trivia
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Geneva airport was created in 1919 as a simple field in Cointrin, near the city of Geneva. From 1926 to 1931, the wooden sheds were replaced by three concrete ones. At the time, there was a small amount of air traffic, with Lufthansa flying from Berlin to Barcelona via Halle, Leipzig, Geneva and Marseille. Swissair also flew the Geneva-Lyon-Paris route in a codeshare with Air Union.
In 1930 there were six airlines that flew to Geneva Airport, flying seven different routes. In 1937 the first concrete runway was built; it measured 405 by 21 m (1,329 by 69 ft). In 1938 eight airlines were flying to Geneva: Swissair, KLM, Lufthansa, 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. In 1945, the runway was enlarged to 1,200 m (3,900 ft), and the authorities agreed to a 2.3M Swiss Francs project to build a first terminal in Geneva. 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 July 17, 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
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 north-eastern 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 May 7, 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 August 31, 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.
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.
The 2007-2015 master plan is coming to an end with the construction of pier C, that will enable seven wide-bodied aircraft such as the Boeing 777 or Airbus A330 and even Boeing 747 to connect to the terminal via jet bridges. This new terminal will also be used by airlines using smaller aircraft, and flying to non-Schengen countries. Additionally, this new facility replaces the outdated and much too small current non-Schengen area, which was constructed as an interim solution back in the 1970s.
The current number of passengers flying through Cointrin is around 15 million per year, and it's growing rapiddly. One solution proposed to support the future 25 million passengers a year in 2030 is to, like in some countries, prevent aircraft that carry less than a hundred passengers, so that there would be less traffic but more passengers. Geneva Cointrin Airport has only one runway and that there can only be one aircraft about every 90 seconds and between 6 am and midnight. This solution hasn't been approved yet, officials are still thinking about finding maybe another solution that could easily grow more Geneva's Airport traffic.
Geneva airport has two passenger terminals, T1 and T2. Terminal 1, also known as Main terminal (M) is divided into 5 piers, A, B, C, D and F. All of the gates at Pier A, and some of the gates at Pier D, are Schengen gates. Passengers who board flights at those gates are not subject to passport checks. Gates at pier B, C, and some at pier D, are used for flights to destinations outside the Schengen area. Passengers who arrive at pier B are often required to pass through a slow-moving subterranean two-booth passport control that can involve a half hour line. Pier C is used primarily for widebody aircraft.
A new terminal project named Aile Est starting in 2012, modernized and extend Pier C following a complete reconstruction. The new pier will be able to accommodate up to six widebody aircraft at once, including one Airbus A380-capable gate. A new gate for narrowbody aircraft will be constructed where the current pier C is located. Some of the new gates will be able to accommodate either one widebody or two narrowbody aircraft. Construction is scheduled to finish by 2015. The new terminal is estimated to cost about 300M Swiss Francs, and will be about 530 meters long and 15 meters wide. This new terminal will replace the temporary terminal that was built during the 70's. Construction was delayed by Swissair moving its long haul operation to Zurich in 1996. The September 11, 2001 attacks and the bankruptcy of Swissair in 2001 delayed it furthermore. Lately a few airlines such as Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways, United Airlines, and Swiss International Air Lines have started to use the facility. The need for this new pier was then urgent.
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 the 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.
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 are only checked-in at this terminal, and then, sent to the main terminal by a low floor bus. 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.
The airport has a single concrete runway (05/23), 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 for light aircraft. Usually, runway 23 is used when the wind is calm. If the wind is stronger than 4 knots and in a direction going from 320 to 140 degrees, then runway 05 will be used.
Airlines and destinations
The following airlines offer regular scheduled and charter flights at Geneva International Airport:
|DHL Aviation||Brussels, Leipzig/Halle|
|TNT Airways||Basel/Mulhouse, Liège|
operated by Farnair Switzerland
- The airline Baboo had its head office on the grounds of the airport and in Le Grand-Saconnex.
- Geneva International Airport hosts an office of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and used to host the world headquarters of Airports Council International (ACI).
The airport is 4 km (2.5 mi) from the Geneva city centre. There is a railway station with trains to Geneva-Cornavin station, and other cities in Switzerland. Before passing through customs, machines dispense free 60 minute tickets for Transports Publics Genevois, which are valid for both the city buses and trains to Geneva.
There are local buses that stop at the airport (Geneva Public Transport). There are also buses to and from Annecy, France, and also seasonal buses to ski resort Chamonix in France and ski resorts in Switzerland. 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.
Incidents and accidents
- In 1950, Air India Flight 245, a Lockheed Constellation, crashed into Mont Blanc while descending toward Geneva.
- In 1966, a very similar accident occurred when Air India Flight 101, a Boeing 707, crashed into Mont Blanc while descending toward Geneva.
- On October 17, 1982 an Egypt Air Boeing 707-366C, SU-APE struck the ground short of runway 23, bounced then slid off the left side of the runway, turned 270 degrees and continued sliding backwards. The right wing separated and a fire which broke out was quickly extinguished by the airport emergency services. Although the plane was a complete write off, the 172 passengers and 10 crew all survived.
- On July 23, 1987 a hijacker was arrested by Swiss authorities on board an Air Afrique DC-10 after the plane had landed at Geneva to refuel. One passenger was shot and killed by the hijacker before he was overpowered by the crew prior to the plane being stormed by the authorities. 1 crew member and 3 other passengers were injured during the incident.
- On 2 September 1998, Swissair Flight 111, bound for Geneva International Airport from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, New York, crashed off the coast of Nova Scotia due to an in-flight fire originating from the wiring in the plane. All of the 229 passengers and crew died.
- On March 20, 1999 an Iberia MD-87, EC-GRL, had to land without its front undercarriage.
- On 17 February 2014, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 702 on scheduled service departing from Addis Ababa at 00:30 (local time) scheduled to arrive in Rome at 04:40 (local time) was forced to proceed to Geneva airport. The Boeing 767-300 (tail ET-AMF) was flying north over Sudan when it changed radio frequency to squawk 7500—which is used in case of hijacking. Nearing Geneva, the pilots communicated with air traffic control to inquire about possibility of hijackers receiving asylum in Switzerland. The aircraft circled the airport several times, before landing around 6:00 in the morning with one engine and less than 10 minutes of fuel remaining. The airport remained closed as the aircraft stayed on the tarmac. At 7:12 local time, the pilots communicated to ATC that they would be ready to disembark passengers in five minutes. The co-pilot of the plane was found to be the hijacker and was arrested. No passenger was hurt.
|Updated: 15 April 2015|
- The old airport building, located next to the current building, is shown in The Adventures of Tintin story "The Calculus Affair."
- EAD Basic
- "Plan de commune." Meyrin. Retrieved on 29 September 2009.
- "PLAN DIRECTEUR." Le Grand-Saconnex. 117 (3/4). Retrieved on 29 September 2009.
- "Geneve Airport - FORMALITIES & SCHENGEN". Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- Aegean Airlines begin new seasonal services to Greece
- "Flight Timetables". easyJet.
- "Five new easyJet destinations from Geneva for 2015". Genève Aéroport. 16 December 2014.
- VLM Airlines starts daily scheduled flights Antwerp-Geneva, VLM Airlines, 4th December 2014
- "Flybaboo SA." Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Retrieved on 22 June 2010. "21 rte de l'Aéroport Main Building 3rd floor Geneva 15 Geneva, 1215 Switzerland."
- "Conditions générales de transport Flybaboo." Baboo. Retrieved on 22 June 2010. "Le siège social est domicilié 21 route de l'Aéroport - Genève [Suisse]."
Media related to Geneva International Airport at Wikimedia Commons
- Official website
- Current weather for LSGG at NOAA/NWS
- Accident history for GVA at Aviation Safety Network