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|
|Elevation AMSL||1,411 ft / 430 m|
|Source: Swiss AIP at EUROCONTROL|
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 and served 13,899,422 passengers and 192,944 aircraft movements in 2012. It is a hub for easyJet Switzerland and Darwin Airline as well as a focus city for Swiss International Air Lines including Swiss European Air Lines.
Its northern limit runs along the Swiss–French border and the airport can be accessed from both countries. Passengers on flights to or from France do not have to go through Swiss customs and immigration controls if they remain in the French sector of the airport. 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.
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 Aero Transport (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.
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 (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. 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. Recently, a new terminal was inaugurated in front of the old terminal building.
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.
The 2007-2015 master plan is coming to an end with the construction of pier C, that will enable seven aircraft such as the Boeing 777 or Airbus A330 and A340 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. 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. With all these changes Geneva expects to be a more efficient airport for passengers and employees.
Geneva airport has two passenger terminals, T1 and T2. T1, also known as Main terminal (M) is divided into 5 piers, A, B, C, D and F. Pier A, and some of the gates at pier D are Schengen gates. Passengers that 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 leaving the Schengen area. Pier C is used mostly for widebody aircraft.
A new terminal project named 'Aile Est' starting in 2012, will modernize and extend Pier C following a complete reconstruction. The new pier will be able to accommodate up to six widebody aircraft at once, including an Airbus A380 capable gate. A new gate for narrowbody aircraft will be created 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 events of 9/11 and the bankruptcy of the national airline in 2001 delayed it furthermore. Lately a few airlines such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways have started to use the facility along with United and Swiss International Airlines. The need for this new pier was then urgent.
Pier F, also known as the French Sector, is used exclusively for passengers arriving from, or departing to French destinations. 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. This sector enables travel between the neighboring French region of the Pays de Gex and the airport, avoiding Swiss territory and customs.
T2 is 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 T2 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 with 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, which is the longest in Switzerland with a length of 3,900 m (12,795 ft), and a smaller, parallel, grass runway for light aircraft.
Airlines and destinations
|DHL Aviation||Brussels, Leipzig/Halle|
|TNT Airways||Basel/Mulhouse, Liège|
operated by Farnair Switzerland
Geneva International Airport has extensive convention facilities and 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. 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", according to the airline. 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 hijacker or hijackers were arrested. 
- The old airport building, located next to the current building, is shown in The Adventures of Tintin story "The Calculus Affair."
- EAD Basic
- Geneva airport statistics
- "Plan de commune." Meyrin. Retrieved on 29 September 2009.
- "PLAN DIRECTEUR." Le Grand-Saconnex. 117 (3/4). Retrieved on 29 September 2009.
- "CSA Czech Airlines Ends Geneva Service from June 2014". Airline Route. 6 March 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- Darwin Airline - ETIHAD Regional Unveils Schedules for New Routes in S14
- Meridiana expands international network from Olbia, Sardinia
- "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]."
- "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 22 April 1978. 1190. "Head Office: PO Box 167, Geneva Airport, Cointrin CH-1215, Switzerland."
- "Ethiopian Airlines flight ET-702 of 17 February 2014". Ethiopian Airlines Press Releases. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
- "Hijacked Ethiopian plane probably flown to Switzerland for asylum". 17 February 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
- "Hijacker arrested after Ethiopian Airlines flight forced to land in Geneva". The Guardian. 17 February 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
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