Geneva Airport

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Geneva Airport

Aéroport de Genève
Logo Genève Aéroport.svg
Geneva airport from air.jpg
Airport typePublic
OwnerCanton of Geneva
OperatorCanton of Geneva
ServesGeneva, Switzerland
LocationLe Grand-Saconnex, Meyrin and Bellevue
Hub foreasyJet Switzerland
Focus city forSwiss International Air Lines
Elevation AMSL1,411 ft / 430 m
Coordinates46°14′18″N 006°06′34″E / 46.23833°N 6.10944°E / 46.23833; 6.10944
LSGG is located in Switzerland
Location of airport
Direction Length Surface
m ft
05/23 3,900 12,795 Concrete
05L/23R 823 2,700 Grass/Earth
Statistics (2018[1])
Passenger change 17-18Increase1.9%
Aircraft movements187,162
Movements change 17-18Decrease1.9%
Source: Geneva Airport Media Center 17 January 2017[2]

Geneva Airport (French: Aéroport de Genève, German: Flughafen Genf, (IATA: GVA, ICAO: LSGG)), formerly and still unofficially known as Cointrin Airport, is the international airport of Geneva, the second most populous city in Switzerland. It is located 4 km (2.5 mi) northwest[3] of the city centre. It surpassed the 15 million passengers mark for the first time in December 2014.[4] 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 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,[5] however, its northern limit runs along the SwissFrench 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.[6][7]


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

Early years[edit]

A simple airfield was established in 1919 in Cointrin, near the city of Geneva, covering an area of 54 hectares (130 acres).[8] 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 Lufthansa 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, 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, 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).[8]

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.[8] 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[edit]

Aerial view (1968)

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.



The main terminal building
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[edit]

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 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.[9] 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.[10]

New long-haul pier Aile Est[edit]

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.[11] Construction originally was delayed by several years by Swissair moving its long haul operation to Zurich in 1996.[12] The September 11, 2001 attacks and the bankruptcy of Swissair in 2001 delayed it furthermore. 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 May 2016, construction of the new Aile Est (East Wing) has finally been announced.[13] It will be a completely new extension of the terminal replacing the current Pier C in the same location. The new facility will be 520 m long and will be able to handle six widebody long-haul aircraft at once directly at the building. Groundbreaking took place in the same month while the old Pier C got demolished during 2017. The new facility is scheduled to be inaugurated in 2020.[13] This building will be 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.[14] As of autumn 2017, the former long-haul terminal has been entirely demolished to make way for the construction of the new facility.

Terminal 2[edit]

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[edit]

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.[15]


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)[16] 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 and in a direction going from 320 to 140 degrees, then runway 04 will be used.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

The following airlines offer regular scheduled and charter flights at Geneva Airport:[17]

Aegean Airlines Athens
Seasonal: Heraklion,[18] Rhodes
Aer Lingus Dublin
Aeroflot Moscow–Sheremetyevo
airBaltic Riga
Air Canada Montréal–Trudeau
Air China Beijing–Capital
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Seasonal: Paris–Orly
Air France Hop Biarritz, Brest, Caen, Marseille
Air Glaciers Seasonal: Saint-Tropez
Air Malta Seasonal: Malta
Air Mauritius Seasonal: Mauritius
Air Senegal Dakar
AnadoluJet Seasonal: Ankara[19]
Austrian Airlines Vienna
Azerbaijan Airlines Baku
British Airways London–City, London–Heathrow
Seasonal charter: Edinburgh
Brussels Airlines Brussels
Chair Airlines Pristina
easyJet Agadir, Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Belgrade, Berlin, Birmingham, Bordeaux, Bristol, Brindisi, Brussels, Budapest, Catania, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Funchal, Lille, Lisbon, Liverpool, London–Gatwick, London–Luton, Madrid, Málaga, Manchester, Marrakesh, Nantes, Naples, Nice, Palermo, Palma de Mallorca, Paris–Orly, Porto, Prague, Pristina, Rennes, Rome–Fiumicino, Santiago de Compostela, Seville, Stockholm–Arlanda, Tel Aviv, Tenerife–South, Tirana, Toulouse
Seasonal: Aberdeen, Ajaccio, Alghero, Antalya, Aqaba, Athens, Bastia, Belfast–International, Bilbao, Bournemouth, Cagliari, Calvi, Dubrovnik, Faro, Figari, Fuerteventura, Glasgow, Gran Canaria, Heraklion, Hurghada, Ibiza, Lamezia Terme, La Rochelle, Malta, Menorca, Mykonos, Olbia, Pula, Santorini, Sharm El Sheikh, Skopje, Southampton, Split, Tivat, Valencia
EgyptAir Cairo
El Al Tel Aviv
Emirates Dubai–International
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi
Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa
Eurowings Düsseldorf
Finnair Helsinki
Flyr Seasonal: Oslo (begins 6 January 2022)[20]
Iberia Madrid
Icelandair Seasonal: Reykjavík–Keflavík
ITA Airways Milan–Linate, Rome–Fiumicino[21] Seasonal: Birmingham, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds/Bradford, London–Stansted, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne (begins 19 December 2021)
Kenya Airways Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta
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, Stockholm–Arlanda
Pegasus Airlines Antalya, Istanbul–Sabiha Gökçen
Qatar Airways Doha
Royal Air Maroc Casablanca, Marrakesh
Royal Jordanian Amman–Queen Alia
Saudia Jeddah, Riyadh
Seasonal: Medina
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm–Arlanda
SunExpress Seasonal: Antalya[22]
Swiss International Air Lines Athens, Barcelona, Dublin, Florence, Frankfurt, Lisbon, London–City, London–Heathrow, Madrid, Málaga, Marrakesh, Moscow–Domodedovo, Munich, New York–JFK, Nice, Palma de Mallorca, Porto, Prague, Pristina, Valencia, Zürich
Seasonal: Ajaccio, Alicante, Antalya, Biarritz, Brindisi, Catania, Chania, Corfu, Cork (begins 19 December 2021),[23] Djerba, Dubrovnik, Faro, Funchal,[24] Heraklion, Hurghada, Ibiza, Kalamata, Kefalonia, Kos, Larnaca, London–Gatwick, Marsa Alam, Menorca, Mykonos, Olbia, Ponta Delgada, Pula, Rhodes, Samos, Santorini, Sharm El Sheikh,[25] Split,[26] Thessaloniki, Toulon, Zakynthos
TAP Air Portugal Lisbon
Seasonal: Porto
Transavia Nantes
Seasonal: Rotterdam/The Hague
TUI Airways Seasonal: Bristol, London–Gatwick, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne
TUI fly Nordic Seasonal charter: Dublin (begins 21 December 2021)[27]
Tunisair Tunis
Seasonal: Djerba, Monastir
Turkish Airlines Istanbul
Seasonal: Ankara, Antalya, Izmir[28]
Ukraine International Airlines Kyiv–Boryspil
United Airlines Newark, Washington–Dulles
Ural Airlines Moscow–Zhukovsky[29]
Vueling Barcelona
Wizz Air Bucharest, Sofia

Other facilities[edit]


Route statistics[edit]

Busiest routes at Geneva Airport (2018)[32]
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[edit]

Annual passenger traffic at GVA airport. See source Wikidata query.

Ground transportation[edit]

Geneva Airport railway station


The airport is 4 km (2.5 mi)[3] 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 80 minute tickets for Geneva Public Transport, which are valid for both the city buses and trains to Geneva.


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[edit]

  • 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 17 October 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.[33]
  • On 23 July 1987 a hijacker was arrested by Swiss authorities on board an Air Afrique DC-10[34] 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 20 March 1999 an Iberia MD-87, EC-GRL, had to land without its front undercarriage.[35]
  • 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 passengers were harmed.[36]


See also[edit]


  1. ^[dead link]
  2. ^ "Press Communication". Archived from the original on 3 April 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "EAD Basic – Error Page". Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  4. ^ "Genève Aéroport – Informations & News". Archived from the original on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Map of Geneva Airport in relation to the Geneva area, Geneva Airport website" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 August 2016. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  6. ^ "Plan de commune Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine." Meyrin. Retrieved on 29 September 2009.
  7. ^ "PLAN DIRECTEUR Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine." Le Grand-Saconnex. 117 (3/4). Retrieved on 29 September 2009.
  8. ^ a b c Bell, E. A. (10 May 1945). "Swiss Planning". Flight and Aircraft Engineer. Royal Aero Club. XLVII (1898): 501. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Geneve Airport – FORMALITIES & SCHENGEN". Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  10. ^ "Genève Aéroport – Airport in motion". Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  11. ^ "Flughafen-Ausbau: Genf bekommt neues Terminal – aeroTELEGRAPH". aeroTELEGRAPH. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  12. ^ "Swiss World aims for long-haul start-up in November". 2 July 1997. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Flughafen Genf baut neues Terminal". aeroTELEGRAPH (in German). 20 May 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  14. ^ "Genève Aéroport – Aile Est". Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  15. ^ "Geneva Airport Business Aviation Terminal". Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  16. ^[bare URL]
  17. ^ "Genève Aéroport – Destinationen ab Genf". Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  18. ^ "Flight schedule". Aegean Airlines. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  19. ^ "Турецкие авиалинии запускают новые рейсы в 8 городов мира". Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  20. ^ Finborud, Jens (30 September 2021). "Flyr satser på skituristene – lanserer fem nye reisemål". (in Norwegian). Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  21. ^[bare URL]
  22. ^ "SunExpress Announces 2021 Summer Program". 23 February 2021.
  23. ^ Murphy, Alan Healy and Greg (4 November 2021). "Cork Airport announces new weekly Swiss air service to Geneva". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  24. ^ "Newsroom : SWISS to expand schedules from mid-summer onwards". Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  25. ^ "SWISS Shifts Focus To Leisure Travel, Sustainability". 20 July 2021.
  26. ^ "SWISS to expand schedules from mid-summer onwards". Swiss Newsroom. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  27. ^ "Flight Timetable". TUI Airways. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  28. ^ "News for Airlines, Airports and the Aviation Industry | CAPA". Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  29. ^ Liu, Jim. "Ural Airlines adds Moscow Zhukovsky – Geneva service from Dec 2020". Routesonline. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  30. ^ "Bloomberg - Are you a robot?". Retrieved 23 November 2021. Cite uses generic title (help)
  31. ^ "FlyBaboo". Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  32. ^ "Rapport annuel 2016 de Genève Aéroport by Genève Aéroport" (PDF). issuu. 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  33. ^ Harro Ranter (17 October 1982). "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 707-366C SU-APE Genève-Cointrin Airport (GVA)". Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  34. ^ Air Afrique Hijacking description at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 22 July 2011.
  35. ^ Schweizerische Unfalluntersuchungsstelle SUST. "SUST – Die SUST" (PDF). Retrieved 3 June 2015.[permanent dead link]
  36. ^ "Genève Aéroport – Informations & News". Retrieved 3 June 2015.

External links[edit]

Media related to Geneva International Airport at Wikimedia Commons