Zurich Airport

Zurich Airport Switzerland's largest international airport and serves as the main hub of Swiss International Air Lines. It serves Zürich, Switzerland's largest city, and much of the rest of the country with its surface transport links.

Airport history

In 1943, the government of the canton of Zurich had a study performed to look for possible locations for the construction of a major airport. After a couple of years of discussions, Switzerland's federal parliament decided that Zürich was going to be the location and sold 1,620 acres of the Kloten-Bülach Artillery Garrison to the canton of Zürich, giving the canton control of the new airfield. Construction of the airport began the following year, in 1946. Early that year, the Zurich Cantonal Council approved a building loan of $36.8 million. Over the course of the next three years, the airport's design had completely shifted from a grass airfield with a four-runway system without taxiways to a three-runway system with paved taxiways. The staggered design meant that it was now possible to make changes without having to impose a complete stop to construction. On May 5, 1946, construction finally started with the diversion of the Altbach stream. Then just two years later, in June of 1948, the 1900 meter-long West Runway 10/28 was the first runway to open. Five months later, the 2600 meter-long blind runway 16/34 opened. The Flughafen-Immobilien-Gesellschaft" (FIG), a mixed-economy public limited company, took over projects that had been started and was able to hand over the completed "Shipyard I" to Swissair for use as early as late autumn 1948, followed by offices for Swissair's technical departments. At the start of 1951, the piling work for the terminal building began, with construction lasting around two years. The new terminal opened in 1953 with a large three-day air show. In 1947, the airport saw 133,638 passengers on 12,766 airline flights; in 1952, 372,832 passengers on 24,728 airline flights. In 1954, Locher & Cie was commissioned to design numerous project options for the second phase of construction, which included mandatory runway extensions and the extension of public facilities. The first buildings were completed in 1960. Office wing A1, office wing B, and the air traffic control building were added to the east on the grounds with a connecting structure. The "Fracht West" building was located a bit off of the main building. Although almost all of the buildings of the second phase had been finished by the end of 1961, the extension of the terminal building was still only in the design stage. In 1972, the first signs of noise mitigation occurred when a night-time curfew was enacted, as well as in 1974 when new approach routes were introduced. Runway 14/32 was opened in 1976 and 16/34 underwent renovation. In 1971, the third stage of construction began. In 1973, Hangar III, Cargo Hall East, Car Park F and the General Aviation Centre were finished. In 1974, the "Werkhof,", an office building and multi-story car park E were built. In1975, the apron, multi-story car park B, and Terminal B were completed, and the following year, the Airport Plaza shopping and service center located in multi-story car park B were done. Then in the late 1970s, airport traffic significantly increased, so a fourth phase of construction was worked out, with the main focal point being the finger dock in Terminal A with 13 docking positions. Fingerdock A became operational on November 1, 1985 and the new 41 meter-high control tower was functional on April 29, 1986. Then in the early nineties, the fifth construction phase (AKA "Airport 2000") was started, intended to replace outdated systems and further expand upon existing facilities. The airport's next major milestone occurred in 1999, when the Parliament of the canton of Zürich approved the privatization of Zurich Airport. The airport finished up a major expansion project in 2003, adding a new parking garage, a new midfield terminal, and an automated underground people mover to link the midfield terminal with the main terminal. In November 2008, a complete renovation and rebuild of the outdated terminal B was announced, opening three years later, in November 2011. After some office buildings were demolished, construction began in the spring of 2018 on the new baggage sorting facilities between the Operations Center and Terminal 1. As of 2020, the marketing of all advertising space at the airport was transferred from Clear Channel to APG.

Airport location

The airport is located in Kloten, Rumlang, Oberglatt, Winkel and Opfikon, 8 miles to the north of the Zurich city centre.

Airport facts

● The airport is owned by Flughafen Zürich AG, a company quoted on the SIX Swiss Exchange. Major shareholders include the canton of Zürich, with 33.33% plus one of the shares, and the city of Zürich, with 5% of the shares. No other shareholder has a holding exceeding 3%. 

● The busiest routes from Zurich Airport are London, Dubai, Berlin, Vienna, New York, Tel Aviv, Singapore, Bangkok, Düsseldorf, and Amsterdam. 

● The airport has three airside piers, which are known as terminals A, B, and E (also signposted as Gates A, B/D, and E). These are linked to a central air-side building called Airside Center, built in 2003.

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Zurich forecast