Geneva Airport

For the airport in Geneva, Alabama, see Geneva Municipal Airport.
Geneva Airport
Aéroport de Genève
Airport type Public
Owner City of Geneva
Operator City of Geneva
Serves Geneva, Switzerland
Location Le Grand-Saconnex,
Meyrin & Bellevue
Hub for
Focus city for Swiss International Air Lines
Elevation AMSL 1,411 ft / 430 m
Coordinates 46°14′18″N 006°06′34″E / 46.23833°N 6.10944°E / 46.23833; 6.10944

Location of airport

Direction Length Surface
m ft
05/23 3,900 12,795 Concrete
05L/23R 823 2,700 Grass/Earth
Statistics (2015)
Passengers 15,691,077
Passenger change 14–15 Increase4.1%
Aircraft movements 147,558
Movements change 14–15 Increase2.1%
Source: Passenger Traffic, ACI Europe[1]

Geneva Airport (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[2] of the city centre. It reached 15 million passengers for the first time in December 2014[3] and serves as a hub for Swiss International Air Lines, easyJet Switzerland and Etihad Regional. Geneva 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 City) outside of Zürich.

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 commune of Meyrin and partially in the commune of Le Grand-Saconnex.[4][5]


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

Geneva airport was created in 1919 as a simple field in Cointrin, near the city of Geneva covering an area of 54 hectares (130 acres).[6] 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.

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).[6]

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.[6] 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 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 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 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.

The current number of passengers flying through Cointrin is around 15 million per year, and it's growing rapidly. 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. 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).

Terminal 1

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 spilt 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.[7]

New check-in area Terminal 1

On 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 metre to the actual check-in area and help to cope with the higher passenger volume that the airport face every year.[8]

New long-haul pier Aile Est

The airport announced in 2012 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.[9] Construction originally was delayed by several years 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 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.[10] 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 will be demolished during 2017. The new facility is scheduled to be inaugurated in 2020.[10] 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, deletes bus rides on the tarmac, and finally power supply and hot / cold direct 3 additional positions instead of an external diesel power.[11]

Terminal 2

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.


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 Airport:[12]

Aegean Airlines Athens
Seasonal: Heraklion, Rhodes
Aer Lingus Dublin
Seasonal charter: London–Gatwick
Aeroflot Moscow–Sheremetyevo
operated by Rossiya
Seasonal: St Petersburg
Air Algérie Algiers
airBaltic Riga (begins 4 May 2017)[13]
Air Berlin Düsseldorf[14]
Air Canada Montréal–Trudeau
Air China Beijing–Capital
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Air France
operated by HOP!
Seasonal: Biarritz, Calvi
Air Malta Malta
Alitalia Rome–Fiumicino
operated by Alitalia CityLiner
Austrian Airlines Vienna
Belavia Minsk
British Airways London–Heathrow
Seasonal: London–Gatwick
British Airways
operated by BA CityFlyer
Brussels Airlines Brussels
easyJet Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin–Schönefeld, Bristol, Edinburgh, Hamburg, Lisbon, Liverpool, London–Gatwick, London–Luton, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Paris–Orly, Toulouse Venice
Seasonal: Belfast–International, Glasgow, London–Southend, London–Stansted
easyJet SwitzerlandAlicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Belgrade, Berlin–Schönefeld, Bordeaux, Brindisi, Brussels, Budapest, Catania, Copenhagen, Fuerteventura, Hurghada, Kraków, Lille, Lisbon, London–Gatwick, Madrid, Málaga, Marrakech, Munich, Nantes, Naples, Nice, Paris–Orly, Pisa, Porto, Pristina, Rome–Fiumicino, Santiago de Compostela, Seville, Stockholm–Arlanda, Tel Aviv–Ben Gurion, Tenerife–South, Toulouse, Venice, Vienna
Seasonal: Aberdeen, Ajaccio, Alghero, Asturias, Athens, Bastia, Bilbao, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Cagliari, Dubrovnik, Faro, Figari, Heraklion, Ibiza, Inverness, La Rochelle, Leeds/Bradford, Malta, Menorca, Mykonos, Olbia, Palermo, Palma de Mallorca, Reykjavík–Keflavík, Santorini, Split
EgyptAir Cairo
El Al Tel Aviv–Ben Gurion
Emirates Dubai–International
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi
Etihad Regional
operated by Darwin Airline
Lugano, Rome–Fiumicino, Zürich
Seasonal: Biarritz, Cagliari, Ibiza, Olbia
Eurowings Düsseldorf
operated by Germanwings
Finnair Helsinki
Flybe Seasonal: Cardiff, Doncaster/Sheffield Exeter, Inverness, Isle of Man, Jersey, Southampton
Seasonal charter: Edinburgh, Manchester
Iberia Madrid
Icelandair Seasonal: Reykjavík–Keflavík Seasonal: Belfast–International, Edinburgh, Glasgow (begins 22 December 2016),[15] Leeds/Bradford, Manchester, Nottingham/East Midlands
Seasonal charter: Edinburgh
KLM Amsterdam
operated by KLM Cityhopper
Kuwait Airways Kuwait
LOT Polish Airlines Warsaw–Chopin
Lufthansa Regional
operated by Lufthansa CityLine
Luxair Luxembourg
Middle East Airlines Beirut
Monarch Airlines Seasonal: Birmingham, London–Gatwick, London–Stansted, Manchester
operated by LOT Polish Airlines
Seasonal charter: Tallinn
Norwegian Air Shuttle Oslo–Gardermoen
Seasonal: Copenhagen, Stockholm–Arlanda
Pegasus Airlines Antalya, Istanbul–Sabiha Gökçen
Qatar Airways Doha
Royal Air Maroc Casablanca, Marrakech
Royal Jordanian Amman–Queen Alia
Saudia Jeddah, Riyadh
Seasonal: Medina
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen, Stockholm–Arlanda
Small Planet Airlines Seasonal: Vilnius
Swiss International Air Lines Athens, Barcelona, Dublin, Lisbon, London–Heathrow, Madrid, Málaga, Marrakech, Moscow–Domodedovo, Munich, New York–JFK, Nice, Oslo–Gardermoen, Palma de Mallorca, Prague, Pristina, Rome–Fiumicino, Stockholm–Arlanda, Zürich
Seasonal: Ajaccio, Catania, Corfu, Heraklion, London–Gatwick, Olbia, St Petersburg, Thessaloniki, Zakynthos
Swiss International Air Lines
operated by Austrian Airlines
Florence, Valencia
Seasonal: Biarritz, Calvi
Swiss International Air Lines
operated by Swiss Global Air Lines
Seasonal: Lamezia Terme
TAP Portugal Lisbon, Porto
TAROM Seasonal: Bucharest
Thomas Cook Airlines Seasonal: Manchester
Thomson Airways Manchester
Seasonal: Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London–Gatwick, London–Luton, London-Stansted (begins 24 December 2016)[16]
Transavia Seasonal: Rotterdam
TUI fly Belgium Casablanca
Tunisair Tunis
Seasonal: Djerba, Monastir
Turkish Airlines Istanbul–Atatürk
Ukraine International Airlines Kiev–Boryspil
United Airlines Newark, Washington–Dulles
Vueling Barcelona, Gran Canaria (begins 6 July 2017),[17] Rome–Fiumicino
Wizz Air Bucharest, Sofia


ASL Airlines Belgium Basel/Mulhouse, Liège
DHL Aviation Brussels, Leipzig/Halle
UPS Airlines
operated by ASL Airlines Switzerland
Basel/Mulhouse, Cologne/Bonn

Other facilities


Route statistics

Busiest routes at Geneva Airport (2014) [20]
RankCityTotal departing passengers
1 London (Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, City Airport, Stansted, Southend) 1,197,674
2 Zurich 490,412
3 Paris (Orly, Charles de Gaulle) 488,496
4 Frankfurt 386,556
5 Amsterdam 320,538
6 Brussels 280,609
7 Lisbon 253,841
8 Madrid 252,852
9 Porto 244,913
10 Barcelona 236,844
11 Nice 205,918
12 Rome 175,373
13 Edinburgh 153,766
14 Moscow (Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo) 150,835
15 Copenhagen 138,291

Passenger development

Geneva Airport Passenger Totals 1980–2014 (millions)[21]
Updated: 8 November 2016

Ground transportation


The airport is 4 km (2.5 mi)[2] 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 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. Many transfer companies operate in the winter, including Ben's Bus which has weekend shared transfers to lots of 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.

Incidents and accidents


See also


  1. "ACI EUROPE Airport Traffic Report. December, Q4 and Full Year 2015" (PDF). Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 "EAD Basic – Error Page". Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  3. "Genève Aéroport – Informations & News". Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  4. "Plan de commune." Meyrin. Retrieved on 29 September 2009.
  5. "PLAN DIRECTEUR." Le Grand-Saconnex. 117 (3/4). Retrieved on 29 September 2009.
  6. 1 2 3 Bell, E. A. (10 May 1945). "Swiss Planning". Flight and Aircraft Engineer. Royal Aero Club. XLVII (1898): 501. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  7. "Geneve Airport – FORMALITIES & SCHENGEN". Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  8. "Genève Aéroport – Airport in motion". Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  9. "Flughafen-Ausbau: Genf bekommt neues Terminal – aeroTELEGRAPH". aeroTELEGRAPH. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  10. 1 2 – "Long-hauls: Geneva Airport builds new terminal" (German) 20 May 2016
  11. "Genève Aéroport – Aile Est". Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  12. "Genève Aéroport – Destinationen ab Genf". Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  15. "Flight Timetables -". Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  16. Thomson adds Stansted – Geneva service in W16
  18. "Flybaboo SA." Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Retrieved on 22 June 2010. "21 rte de l'Aéroport Main Building 3rd floor Geneva 15 Geneva, 1215 Switzerland."
  19. "Conditions générales de transport Flybaboo." Baboo. Retrieved on 22 June 2010. "Le siège social est domicilié 21 route de l'Aéroport – Genève [Suisse]."
  21. "Genève Aéroport – Statistics". Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  22. Harro Ranter (17 October 1982). "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 707-366C SU-APE Genève-Cointrin Airport (GVA)". Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  23. Air Afrique Hijacking description at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 22 July 2011.
  24. Schweizerische Unfalluntersuchungsstelle SUST. "SUST – Die SUST" (PDF). Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  25. "Genève Aéroport – Informations & News". Retrieved 3 June 2015.

External links

Media related to Geneva International Airport at Wikimedia Commons

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