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Zurich Airport is strong economic driver

Employing over 27,000 people and generating value of CHF 5 billion, Zurich Airport is a key economic driver for both the region and Switzerland as a whole.

Air traffic is booming, and more and more people are travelling by plane. As the number of passengers increases, so too does the importance of Zurich Airport for jobs and as a business base. In 2016, around 280 companies based at the airport provided over 27,000 people with jobs. There are thus approximately as many jobs at the airport as in the cities of Schaffhausen or Thun.

Flughafen Zürich AG commissioned "Infras/BAK Basel" to conduct a study on the economic importance of Zurich Airport. The report's key findings are set out below.

5 billion Swiss francs value generated
The economic activity of the companies based at the airport generate added value of around CHF 5 billion in total. As well as the value directly attributable to the airport, there is also indirect value added such as infrastructure investments as well as products and services purchased in the region by suppliers, plus further jobs indirectly linked to the airport. Overall, therefore, the airport generates approximately the same amount of value as the cantons of Glarus and Nidwalden put together. 

12,000 overnight tourists per day
The study also shows that each year 4.3 million – or approximately one in four – overnight tourists travel to Switzerland via Zurich Airport. While the number of European tourists is declining, the proportion of tourists from far-flung markets such as Asia and North and South America has increased considerably in the past few years. At the same time, the trend towards short business trips and city breaks within Europe is growing. This development underscores the increasing importance of air travel and of an attractive intercontinental airport for Switzerland as a tourism location.

40% of all Swiss exports by value are transported by air freight
As well as flying and connecting people, the aviation industry also ensures the fast and reliable transportation of high-value goods. Measured by value, 40% of all Swiss exports are transported by air. Air freight is often the only option for expensive and fragile high-quality products such as pharmaceuticals or watches and jewellery. As the majority of freight is carried on scheduled flights, Zurich Airport's wide range of direct connections is helping to enhance the strength of Switzerland as a production base.

Accessibility rankings are stagnating and endangering the location’s attractiveness
An airport also contributes to the infrastructure a region needs to compete internationally to attract business. Accessibility is the most important factor here. The study underscores the important role Zurich Airport plays in the current high level of accessibility. Measured using BAK Economics' accessibility model, Zurich is still very accessible – in both global and continental terms – and is therefore an attractive location for internationally active companies. In absolute terms, however, accessibility has stagnated in recent years, and indeed has fallen considerably relative to competing locations in Europe. In 2000, Zurich still ranked as highly for accessibility as Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam or Paris – cities with the biggest hub airports in Europe. Today, it has fallen 15 to 20 percentage points behind for both continental and intercontinental accessibility.

Demand-driven development will boost economic engine effect
In conjunction with long-haul connections to as many important destinations for the Swiss economy as possible, this trend highlights that hub operation constitutes one of the strongest drivers of accessibility. One scenario worked through in the study also showed that if Zurich Airport were to cease operating as a hub airport, this would result in a significant loss of global accessibility in particular. To arrest this trend, and consequently ensure that Switzerland remains well-connected into the future, Zurich Airport requires a favourable operating environment. Only then will it be able to meet increasing demand and provide direct flights to emerging business destinations.

A summary of the study and further information can be found here.


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