The increasing number of passengers travelling though Swiss airports offers a broad range of future business opportunities for UK companies.
Airports - Switzerland
Regula Hofer, Senior Project Manager Trade & Investment, British Embassy Berne
Last revised March 2010
Whereas every effort has been made to ensure that the information given in this document is accurate, neither UK
Trade & Investment nor its parent Departments (the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, and the
Foreign & Commonwealth Office), accept liability for any errors, omissions or misleading statements, and no warranty is
given or responsibility accepted as to the standing of any individual, firm, company or other organisation mentioned.
Published February 2010 by UK Trade & Investment.
Crown Copyright ©
Airports - Switzerland
Table of Contents
CHARACTERISTICS OF MARKET 3
KEY METHODS OF DOING BUSINESS 5
MORE DETAILED SECTOR REPORTS 5
CONTACT LISTS 7
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Airports - Switzerland
Air traffic is unquestionably of outstanding political and economical significance for a small and
open economy like Switzerland. The aviation industry of Switzerland accounts for 176,000 jobs
and in one form or another adds value amounting to 26bn Swiss Francs ? which equates
roughly six percent of the national GDP.
Switzerland?s international airports are a central part of the air transportation value chain, which
includes numerous suppliers and services. Even though Swiss airports are generally private-
owned and operate on a commercial basis, there is in general a municipal and regional
The increasing number of passengers travelling though Swiss airports offers a broad range of
future business opportunities for UK companies. Especially the safety and security sector offers
a variety of opportunities in equipment and systems, redesign of existing processes or
A key method for UK firms to enter the Swiss market is through Swiss public procurement.
Tenders are commonly fed in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce. Detailed information are
on www.shab.ch . Publication in official EU publications is not required of Swiss based firms, but
Switzerland is committed to the WTO agreement, which many procurement processes adhere
Since there is generally no collective procurement strategy, most airports have established their
own expertise in procurement and technical matters. Furthermore, business is rarely done
through agents but via direct procurement.
UKTI publishes international business opportunities gathered by our network of British
Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates worldwide. These opportunities appear in the
Opportunities portlet on the relevant sector and country pages on the UKTI website. By setting
up a profile you can be alerted by email when relevant new opportunities are published. New or
updated alert profiles can be set in My Account on the website.
CHARACTERISTICS OF MARKET
Key players in the Swiss market
Zurich International Airport www.flughafen-zuerich.ch
The privately managed Unique Airport Ltd (www.unique.com) operates Switzerland?s
International Airport of Zurich. 49 percent of Unique is owned by the Canton of Zurich and a
further 5 percent by the City of Zurich. Unique is one of about 180 companies at Zurich Airport;
in total they employ approximately 20,000 people, of which 1,400 are employed by Unique.
Zurich Airport is the main hub for Switzerland?s principal airline - SWISS International Airlines ?
which generates the major part of the air traffic volume, followed by Lufthansa, Air Berlin and
British Airways. In addition to the airport?s feeder function for road, rail and air traffic, the
complex serves as a centre for shopping, entertainment and services.
Geneva International Airport www.gva.ch
In recent years, Geneva Airport has chosen to work with both types of traffic, on one hand the
network airlines and, on the other, the ?no-frills? air travel. At the airport 150 companies and
organisations employ roughly 6,500 persons on-site.
EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg www.euroairport.com
The world?s only binational airport is situated entirely on French territory and has a separate
Swiss customs sector that is linked to Basel via a controlled access road. The airport serves a
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Airports - Switzerland
trinational region encompassing Alsace (F), North-West Switzerland and South Baden (D). The
extensive range of goods transported via EuroAirport each year ? totalling around 100,000
tonnes ? reflects the broad variety of business activities in the region.
Airport Lugano-Agno www.lugano.ch
Situated south of the Alps between Zurich and Milan, Lugano Airport ensures a fast connection
between the Lugano area and major Swiss and European centres, operates as a hub for air
traffic between Northern and Southern Europe and provides business people and tourists with
access to the Lugano region. In February 2009 it was announced, that the City of Lugano has
approved 14.5 million Swiss Francs to expand the airport Lugano Agno. The upgrade includes
the modernisation of the terminal and the extension of the runway by 100 metres. The airport
will thus be able to accommodate aircraft for up to 80 passengers (compared to 50 passengers
Airport St. Gallen-Altenrhein www.stgallen-airport.ch
St. Gallen-Altenrhein Airport is situated in the east of Switzerland bordering Vorarlberg,
Liechtenstein and south of Germany and serves scheduled flights to various European
Airport Bern-Belp www.alpar.ch
The international airport of Switzerland?s capital Berne is operated by the privatly-owned Alpar
Flug- und Flugplatzgesellschaft AG. Bern-Belp is approached by European airlines such as
Lufthansa and Air France offering direct flights to Munich and Paris and Charter Destinations.
Further key areas
Facility management is usually handled by the local airport operator, who ? to some extent ?
outsource a number of technical and infrastructure management functions. So far it has been
quite common for the airport operator (authority) to establish contracts not just with one facility
company but with a large number of specialised firms, but there seems to be a trend towards a
more integrated pattern.
Shopping and conference
The non-aviation business has become a key factor in the airport industry and generally cross-
subsidises other airport operations helping to keep airport charges at a competitive level.
Headquartered in Switzerland, the Nuance Group (www.thenuancegroup.com) is one of the
world?s leading airport retailers and has a sizeable presence in Zurich and Geneva Airport.
Safety and security
Swiss airports operate under IATA regulations and Swiss law and are responsible for
implementing safety and security matters. The Swiss stock company for civil and military air
traffic control Skyguide (www.skyguide.ch) controls Swiss airspace operating from all major
airports in Switzerland.
The Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) is responsible for aviation development and the
supervision of civil aviation activities in Switzerland. The FOCA is part of the Federal
Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) and is
charged with ensuring that the high safety standards in civil aviation in Switzerland are
maintained. For more information please go to www.bazl.admin.ch.
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Airports - Switzerland
Swiss Airports and the Schengen Agreement
Since 12 December 2008, there are no longer any systematic personal controls at Switzerland?s
surface borders, following the entry into force of the Agreement associating Switzerland with
the Schengen Area, adopted by the Swiss people in 2005. The Agreement provides for the free
movement of people in the 24 countries of the Schengen Area.
For Switzerland, the airports are in fact the only external borders of the Schengen Area.
Passengers from or bound for countries outside the Schengen area must therefore undergo
systematic personal controls. Passengers moving within the Schengen Area are not subject to
the controls; hence the two passenger streams must be separated.
Since Switzerland is not a member of the customs union established by the European Union,
which provides for the free movement of goods, customs controls will remain in place both at
airports and for surface access.
KEY METHODS OF DOING BUSINESS
Even though Switzerland is not a member state, the European Union is by far the most
important trading partner of Switzerland. However, while Switzerland shares close contractual
ties with the EU, the country has its own established standards and regulations, which are not
necessarily, but more often than not, valid within the European Community.
Switzerland encompasses three main languages (German, French, Italian) and even though
English is widely spoken it is important to have any documentation available in at least one of
the official national languages.
In general, quality and technical criteria are more important than price in bid decisions. If you
wish to establish a long-term relationship with Swiss customers you should be prepared to
satisfy the demands and requirements, provide evidence of flexibility and a high level of service,
and express commitment to the market. It is essential that products are supplied on schedule
and in accordance with the contracted details. Ongoing communication and feedback between
supplier and customer is another important aspect.
Other background information on doing business in Switzerland can be found on UKTI?s
website. Simply go to the Swiss country page where you will find information on:
? Economic background and geography
? Customs & regulations
? Selling & communications
? Contacts & setting up
? Visiting and social hints and tips
MORE DETAILED SECTOR REPORTS
Research is critical when considering new markets. UKTI provides market research services
which can help UK companies doing business overseas including:
? Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS). Bespoke research into potential
markets, and support during your visits overseas
? Export Marketing Research Scheme. In-depth and subsidised service administered
by the British Chambers of Commerce on behalf of UKTI
Contact your local International Trade Adviser if you are interested in accessing these services,
or for general advice in developing your export strategy.
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Airports - Switzerland
When considering doing business in Switzerland, it is essential to obtain legal, financial and
taxation advice. For further details, please contact:
Senior Project Manager Trade & Investment
Tel: +41 (0)31 359 7742
Fax: +41 (0)31 359 7701
Airlines International (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Airlines International is the IATA flagship magazine designed to inform airline management,
industry associates and government officials.
Interavia covers the Business and Technology of the world aerospace industries, with a
distinctly European editorial viewpoint.
Aero Revue (www.aero-revue.ch)
Switzerland?s largest aviation magazine with a Swiss point of view.
A recently launched magazine covering different aspects of Switzerland?s aerospace industry.
Covers civil and military aspects of Switzerland?s aerospace industry.
Airport specific magazines of Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Bern and St. Gallen-Altenrhein are available
Other sources of information
SIAA Swiss International Airport Association (www.siaa.ch)
Swiss organisation to promote and safeguard the interests of Switzerland?s airports.
Umbrella organisation of Swiss civil aerospace representing over 100 companies from the
Swiss Aeronautical Industries Group (www.swissmem.ch)
Aerospace division of Swissmem (the Swiss mechanical, electrical and engineering industries).
Board of Airline Representatives in Switzerland BAR (www.bar-ch.org)
The Board of Airline Representatives in Switzerland (B.A.R.) is the partnership of airlines who
operate scheduled traffic from/to Switzerland or who are represented by a sales office in
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Airports - Switzerland
European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, held annually in Geneva.
Next 4-6 May 2010
Farnborough International Air Show
Exhibition held every two years in Farnborough. Next 19?25 July 2010
UK Trade & Investment?s Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) can help eligible UK businesses
take part in overseas exhibitions. Attendance at TAP events offers significant benefits:
? possibilities for business opportunities both at the show and in the future
? a chance to assess new markets and develop useful contacts
? grants are available if you meet the criteria
? UKTI staff overseas will be available to assist delegates
Find out if you are eligible to apply to attend this event, and more about the support UKTI can
offer, on the UKTI Market Entry web page.
Details of TAP events can be found in the Events portlet on the [country] page.
Other Market Visit Support may be available via your local International Trade Advisor.
Peter Mueller Regula Hofer
Trade Attaché Senior Project Manager
Trade & Investment
British Embassy British Embassy
Thunstrasse 50 Thunstrasse 50
CH-3005 Berne CH-3005 Berne
Tel: +41 (0)31 359 7728 Tel: +41 (0)31 359 7742
Fax: +41 (0)31 359 7701 Fax: +41 (0)31 359 7701
UKTI?s International Trade Advisers can provide you with essential and impartial advice on
all aspects of international trade. Every UK region also has dedicated sector specialists who can
provide advice tailored to your industry. You can trace your nearest advisor by entering your
postcode into the Local Office Database on the homepage of our website.
For new and inexperienced exporters, our Passport to Export process will take you through the
mechanics of exporting. An International Trade Adviser will provide professional advice on a
range of services, including financial subsidies, export documentation, contacts in overseas
markets, overseas visits, translating marketing material, e-commerce, subsidised export training
and market research.
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