Zurich benefits from Lufthansa’s nurturing of Swiss; airberlin second busiest carrier

Image: Swiss launch twice-daily flights between Zurich and Oslo
Swiss has gradually re-established itself and developed under the guidance of Lufthansa. Swiss and Lufthansa combined currently account for 60% of scheduled flights at Zurich. In June, Swiss launched twice-daily flights between Zurich and Oslo.

Zurich’s Kloten airport is the only western European airport (with more than 20 million annual passengers) which reported traffic growth in June, with passenger numbers being reported up by 1.7%. This was primarily achieved by a 7.8% increase in transfer passengers (which constitute around 36% of the airport’s traffic) as origin and destination traffic fell by 1.5%. European and North American traffic grew by between 2% and 3% while Asian, Latin American and Africa traffic figures were all down.

Despite traffic being up by between 7% and 8% in each of the last three years, passenger numbers have not quite surpassed the peak in 2000 before the dramatic collapse of Swissair in the aftermath of ‘9/11′. With year-on-year passenger demand down just under 4% in the first half of 2009 it seems the record achieved in 2000 will survive for at least another year.

Chart: Zurich airport traffic 1990-2008
Source: Unique
Image: The Circle at Zurich Airport
‘The Circle at Zurich Airport’ is a major 200,000sqm real estate development that will be located within walking distance of the terminal. The winner of the architecture bid will be announced in February 2010, while construction of the CHF1 billion (US$930m) development is scheduled to begin in 2012.

In 2003 traffic had fallen as much as 25% below the peak achieved in 2000. Since then traffic has recovered well as Swiss (the successor to Swissair) has gradually re-established itself and developed under the guidance of Lufthansa. Swiss and Lufthansa combined currently account for 60% of scheduled flights and 61% of scheduled seat capacity. The biggest rival to Swiss in Zurich is airberlin which has a 7% share of scheduled capacity and this summer operates to 25 destinations. However, most of these are low frequency leisure routes to the Mediterranean with only five destinations (Berlin Tegel, Dűsseldorf, Hamburg, Hannover and Palma) served at least daily.

July peak 40% busier than February

Zurich’s seasonal traffic profile is relatively stable with demand in the peak month of July around 40% higher than in the least busy month of February.

Chart: Zurich seasonality
Source: Unique

Passenger numbers in 2009 are running well ahead of figures for 2007 thanks to a raft of new routes that have started at the airport during the last 12 months. These are summarised below (along with those that have been lost) with the emphasis on routes that are/were served at least twice per week.

Gained AYT (Edelweiss, Swiss), BJV (Swiss), EVN (Armavia), FNC (Sata), HRG (Swiss), JFK (Delta), KLU (Robin Hood Aviation), LGW (Aer Lingus, easyJet), LYS (Swiss), OSL (Swiss), OTP (Tarom), PRN (Edelweiss), RHO (Edelweiss), SAW (Pegasus), SEZ (Air Seychelles), TIA (Belle Air), VLC (Swiss)
Lost BCN (clickair, Spanair), CMN (Royal Air Maroc), FCO (Alitalia), LCY (Air France), LGW (British Airways), LYS (Air France), NAP (Air One), TIP (Libyan Airlines, Swiss), TXL (Lufthansa)
Source: Derived from OAG Max Online for w/c 4 August 2008 and w/c 3 August 2009

Turkey market growing; UK sees more LCCs

While the German market remains twice as big as any other country market its overall share has fallen by 1.5 percentage points during the last year. Growing country markets include USA, France, Italy (despite the withdrawal of all Alitalia/Air One flights) and Turkey, which has the highest percentage growth rate of any major country market.

Chart: Zurich top 12 country markets
Source: Derived from OAG Max Online for w/c 4 August 2008 and w/c 3 August 2009

The UK market has seen the disappearance of British Airways services to London Gatwick and Air France flights to London City. However, it has also seen the introduction of daily low-cost flights from London Gatwick by both Aer Lingus and easyJet.

Delta’s new daily service to New York JFK has helped stimulate the US market while other long-haul markets served include Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Qatar, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, UAE and the USA. To coincide with next year’s winter Olympics a new non-stop service to Vancouver operated by Air Canada is scheduled to start in March 2010.

Apart from Aer Lingus (Dublin and London Gatwick) and easyJet (London Gatwick and Luton) the only other genuine LCCs present in Zurich are Germanwings (to Cologne/Bonn) and Pegasus (to various Turkish destinations). Given the airport’s reputation as a high-cost airport, there seems little likelihood that the likes of Ryanair or Wizz Air will be joining the list of some 65 scheduled airlines currently operating from the airport.


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