Zürich Airport (German: Flughafen Zürich, IATA: ZRH, ICAO: LSZH), also known as Kloten Airport, is the largest international airport of Switzerland and the principal hub of Swiss International Air Lines. It serves Zürich, Switzerland's largest city, and, with its surface transport links, much of the rest of the country. The airport is located 13 kilometres (8 mi) north of central Zürich, in the municipalities of Kloten, Rümlang, Oberglatt, Winkel and Opfikon, all of which are within the canton of Zürich.[1][3]


Early years

A Swissair Douglas DC-8 at Zürich Airport in 1965
A Swissair Boeing 747-300 at Zürich Airport in 1993

The first flight abroad from Switzerland landed on July 21, 1921. In the early years of aviation, the Dübendorf Air Base, located some 8 km (5.0 mi) to the south-east of Zürich Airport, also served as the city's commercial airfield. The need for a dedicated commercial facility led to the search for a location at which to build a replacement airport.[4] Switzerland's federal parliament decided in 1945 that Zürich was to be the site of a major airport, and sold 655 hectares (1,620 acres) of the Kloten-Bülach Artillery Garrison (German: Artillerie-Waffenplatz Kloten-Bülach) to the Canton of Zürich, giving the canton control of the new airfield. Construction of the airport began the following year.[5][6]

Initial plans for the airport, as laid out in the Federal government's scheme of 1945, were centered on facilities capable of handling international airline traffic. Aircraft of up to 80 tons were envisaged. The primary runway was to be designed for use in all weathers and at night, with a 400-meter-wide hard surface running to 3000 meters in length. Additional 100-meter areas were to be provided on the shoulders for lateral protection in case of runway excursions. Additional domestic runways, between 1000 and 1400 meters in length, were also to be built.[4]

The first flights from the west runway were not until 1948. The new terminal opened in 1953 with a large air show that ran three days. In 1947, the airport handled 133,638 passengers on 12,766 airline flights; in 1952, 372,832 passengers on 24,728 airline flights. The first expansion of the airport was submitted in 1956; the Swiss Government approved the budget for the expansion in 1958, and the expansion was completed in 1961.[5][7]

On 18 February 1969, four armed members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine attacked El Al flight 432 whilst it prepared for takeoff. The aircraft's security guard repelled the attack, resulting in the death of one of the terrorists, whilst the Boeing 720's co-pilot subsequently died of his injuries.[8]

On 18 January 1971, an inbound Balkan Bulgarian Airlines Il-18D approached Zürich Airport in fog below the glideslope. It crashed and burst into flames, 0.7 kilometres (0.43 mi) north of the airport, when both left wingtip and landing gear contacted the ground. Seven crew members and 38 passengers were killed.[9]

The airport was again submitted and approved for renovation in 1970, and Terminal B was completed in 1971. The first signs of noise mitigation for the airport were in 1972, 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 began renovation.[5]

1980 onwards

The noise of aircraft became an issue at Zürich Airport; a noise charge was instituted in 1980, and in 1984 airport officials made an agreement regarding arrivals and departures to the airport via German airspace. The next major event for the airport was in 1999, when the Parliament of the Canton of Zürich approved privatization of Zürich Airport. The following year, Flughafen Zürich AG, trading under the brand Unique, became the new airport operator. The company dropped the brand Unique in favour of Zürich Airport and Flughafen Zürich in 2010.[5][10]

On 2 October 2001 a major cash-flow crisis at Swissair, exacerbated by the global downturn in air travel caused by the September 11 attacks, caused the airline to ground all its flights. Although a government rescue plan permitted some flights to restart a few days later, and the airline's assets were subsequently sold to become Swiss International Air Lines, the airport lost a large volume of traffic. After Lufthansa took control of Swiss International Air Lines in 2005, traffic began to grow again.

On 18 October 2001, Germany and Switzerland signed a treaty regarding the limitation of flights over Germany. Under the terms of this treaty, any incoming aircraft after 22:00 had to approach Zürich from the east to land on runway 28, which, unlike the airport's other runways, was not equipped with an instrument landing system. A month later, at 22:06 on 24 November, an inbound Crossair Avro RJ100 using this approach in conditions of poor visibility crashed into a range of hills near Bassersdorf and exploded, killing 24 of the 33 people on board. The flight had originally been scheduled to land on runway 14 before 22:00, but it was subject to delay and was therefore diverted to runway 28.[5][11]

Zürich Airport completed a major expansion project in 2003, in which it built a new parking garage, a new midfield terminal, and an automated underground people mover to link the midfield terminal to the main terminal. In November 2008 a complete renovation and rebuild of the old terminal B structure was announced. The new terminal B opened in November 2011, and provides segregated access to and from aircraft for Schengen and non-Schengen passengers.[12] Zürich Airport handled 25.5 million passengers in 2014, up 2.5 percent from 2013.[13]

Etihad Regional ceased on 18 February 2015 to fly two-thirds of its scheduled routes without further notice, amongst them all its services from Zürich except the domestic service to Geneva.[14][15][16] Etihad Regional blamed the failure of its expansion on the behavior of competitors, especially Swiss International Air Lines, as well as the Swiss aviation authorities.[15]

As a consequence of the bombings in Brussels on 22 March 2016, which caused the temporary closure of Brussels Airport, Brussels Airlines stationed three Airbus A330s at Zürich airport to offer flights to several African countries for the duration of the closure.[17]

Corporate affairs

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%.[18] Flughafen Zürich AG used the brand name Unique from 2000 until 2010.[19]

In March 2017, Flughafen Zürich AG announced it had acquired 100% of Brazil's Hercílio Luz International Airport, and will operate it under a concession until 2047. The company also has stakes in the operation of airports in Belo Horizonte, Bogotá, Curaçao, Antofagasta, Iquique and Bangalore.[20][21]


Terminal A for domestic and Schengen destinations
The Airside Center by night

Terminal complex

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. Alongside the Airside Center, the ground-side terminal complex named Airport Center comprises several buildings, and includes airline check-in areas, a shopping mall, a railway station, car parks, and a bus and tram terminal. All departing passengers access the same departure level of the Airside Center, which includes duty-free shopping and various bars and restaurants, via airport security. They are then segregated between passengers for Schengen and non-Schengen destinations on the way to the gate lounges, with the latter first passing through emigration controls. Arriving Schengen and non-Schengen passengers are handled in separate areas of the Airside Center and reach the Airport Center by different routes, with non-Schengen passengers first passing through immigration controls.[22][23]

The three airside terminals are:

Terminal A

Terminal A contains gates prefixed A. It opened in 1971, and it is used exclusively by flights to and from destinations inside the Schengen Area, including domestic flights within Switzerland. Since its expansion in 1982-1985, it takes the form of a finger pier, directly connected at one end to the Airside Centre.[5][22]

Terminal B

Terminal B contains gates prefixed B and D. It opened in 1975 and reopened in November 2011 after an extensive three-year reconstruction. Like terminal A, it takes the form of a finger pier directly connected at one end to the Airside Centre. Since reconstruction, it can accommodate both Schengen and non-Schengen flights at the same gates. Each gate has two numbers, one prefixed B and the other D, but with different passenger routes to and from the gates to separate the flows of Schengen and non-Schengen passengers.[5][22][24]

International Terminal E
Terminal E

Terminal E contains gates prefixed E, and is also known as the midfield terminal or Dock E. It is a stand-alone satellite terminal located on the opposite side of runway 10/28 from the Airside Center, and is situated between runways 16/34 and 14/32. It is entirely used by non-Schengen international flights and became operational and was opened on September 1, 2003. It is connected to the Airside Center by the Skymetro, an automated underground people mover.[5][22]


Zurich Airport has three runways: 16/34 of 3,700 m (12,100 ft) in length, 14/32 of 3,300 m (10,800 ft) in length, and 10/28 of 2,500 m (8,200 ft) in length. For most of the day and in most conditions, runway 14 is used for landings and runways 16 and 28 are used for takeoffs, although different patterns are used early morning and in the evenings.[25]

Airlines and destinations


Zürich Airport offers scheduled and charter flights to 196 destinations in 62 countries around the world.[26]

Airlines Destinations
Adria Airways Ljubljana
Aegean Airlines Athens
Seasonal: Heraklion, Rhodes
Aer Lingus Dublin
Aeroflot Moscow–Sheremetyevo
airBaltic Riga
Air Canada Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Vancouver (resumes 8 June 2018)[27]
Air China Beijing–Capital
Air Europa Madrid
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Air Malta Malta
Air Serbia Belgrade
Alitalia Rome–Fiumicino
American Airlines Philadelphia
AtlasGlobal Istanbul–Atatürk
Austrian Airlines Vienna
BH Air Seasonal: Burgas, Varna
British Airways London–City, London–Heathrow
Seasonal charter: Edinburgh
Bulgaria Air Sofia
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong
Cobalt Air Seasonal: Larnaca
Corendon Airlines Seasonal: Antalya
Croatia Airlines Zagreb
Seasonal: Dubrovnik, Pula, Split
Cyprus Airways Larnaca (begins 25 May 2018)[28]
Delta Air Lines New York–JFK
Seasonal: Atlanta
easyJet Amsterdam, Berlin–Schönefeld, Berlin–Tegel,[29] Lisbon, London–Gatwick, London–Luton, Naples, Nice, Venice
Edelweiss Air Buenos Aires (begins 7 November 2018),[30] Catania, Edinburgh, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Gran Canaria, Havana, Hurghada, Lanzarote, Marsa Alam, Orlando,[31] Palma de Mallorca, Pristina, Punta Cana, Rio de Janeiro–Galeão, Santa Cruz de la Palma (begins 28 October 2018)[32], San José de Costa Rica, Seville, Skopje, Tampa, Tenerife–South
Seasonal: Antalya, Bodrum, Cagliari, Calgary, Cancún, Cape Town, Chania,[33] Corfu, Colombo (begins 2 November 2018), Dalaman, Denver,[34] Djerba,[35] Dubrovnik[36], Eilat-Ovda (begins 28 October 2018),[37] Faro, Heraklion, Ho Chi Minh City (begins 15 November 2018),[38] Ibiza, Inverness (begins 3 July 2018), Jerez De La Frontera (begins 1 July 2018),[39] Kos, Lamezia Terme, Larnaca, Las Vegas, Mahé (begins 22 September 2018),[40] Malé, Marrakech, Mauritius, Mykonos, Olbia, Paphos,[41] Phuket, Pula, Rhodes, Samos (begins 8 May 2018),[42] San Diego, Santorini, Split, Vancouver, Varadero (resumes 16 July 2018),[31] Varna
Seasonal charter: Reykjavík–Keflavík (begins 16 June 2018),[43] Kittilä (begins 23 December 2018),[44] Rovaniemi, Tromsø
El Al Tel Aviv–Ben Gurion
Emirates Dubai–International
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi
Eurowings Cologne/Bonn, Düsseldorf, Hamburg
Finnair Helsinki
Seasonal: Kittilä[45]
Flybe Seasonal: Guernsey, Jersey (both begin 5 May 2018)
Germania Flug Agadir, Beirut, Gran Canaria, Hurghada, Marsa Alam, Sharm El Sheikh, Tenerife–South (begins 1 May 2018)
Seasonal: Antalya (begins 31 August 2018), Burgas, Corfu (begins 22 May 2018), Fuerteventura (begins 5 May 2018), Heraklion, Ibiza (begins 3 May 2018), Kos, Lanzarote (begins 1 May 2018), La Palma, Larnaca (resumes 2 May 2018), Palma de Mallorca, Rhodes (begins 4 May 2018), Samos (begins 1 May 2018), Split, Zadar (begins 12 May 2018),[46] Zakynthos (begins 3 May 2018)
Helvetic Airways Seasonal: Calvi, Kuusamo, Olbia (begins 14 April 2018), Rostock (begins 18 May 2018), Shannon,[47] Tromsø
Seasonal charter: Lourdes, Moscow–Sheremetyevo, Palma de Mallorca, St Petersburg
Iberia Madrid
Icelandair Reykjavík–Keflavík
KLM Amsterdam
Korean Air Seoul–Incheon
Laudamotion Seasonal: Corfu (begins 27 June June 2018),[48] Fuerteventura (begins 28 June 2018),[48] Ibiza (begins 23 June 2018),[48] Heraklion (begins 24 June 2018),[48] Lamezia Terme (begins 25 June 2018),[48] Lanzarote (begins 26 June 2018),[48] Olbia (begins 23 June 2018),[48] Palma de Mallorca (begins 2 June 2018),[48] Rhodes (begins 24 June 2018)[48]
LOT Polish Airlines Warsaw–Chopin
Lufthansa Frankfurt, Munich
Lufthansa Regional Munich
Montenegro Airlines Podgorica
Nouvelair Seasonal charter: Enfidha
Oman Air Muscat
Onur Air Antalya (begins 30 June 2018)[49]
Pegasus Airlines Istanbul–Sabiha Gökçen
People's Viennaline Seasonal charter: Menorca (begins 2 June 2018)[50]
Qatar Airways Doha
Royal Air Maroc Casablanca
Royal Jordanian Amman–Queen Alia1
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen, Oslo–Gardermoen, Stockholm–Arlanda
Sichuan Airlines Chengdu, Prague (both begin 23 June 2018)[51]
Singapore Airlines Singapore
SkyWork Airlines Seasonal: Elba[citation needed]
SunExpress Antalya, İzmir, Gaziantep (begins 21 June 2018)[52]
Seasonal: Ankara (begins 20 June 2018)[53]
Swiss International Air Lines Amsterdam, Athens, Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi, Barcelona, Beijing–Capital, Belgrade, Berlin–Tegel, Bilbao, Birmingham, Boston, Brussels, Bucharest, Budapest, Bordeaux, Cairo, Chicago–O'Hare, Copenhagen, Dar es Salaam, Delhi, Dresden, Dubai–International, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Florence, Frankfurt, Gran Canaria, Graz, Geneva, Gothenburg, Hamburg, Hanover, Hong Kong, Kiev–Boryspil, Kraków, Johannesburg–OR Tambo, Leipzig/Halle, Lisbon, London–City, London–Heathrow, Los Angeles, Lugano, Luxembourg, Lyon, Madrid, Málaga, Manchester, Marseille (begins 21 April 2018),[54] Miami, Milan–Malpensa, Montréal–Trudeau, Moscow–Domodedovo, Mumbai, Munich, Muscat, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta, Naples, New York–JFK, Newark, Nice, Niš, Nuremberg, Oslo–Gardermoen, Palma de Mallorca, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Porto, Prague, Rome–Fiumicino, Saint Petersburg, San Francisco, São Paulo–Guarulhos, Shanghai–Pudong, Singapore, Stockholm–Arlanda, Sofia, Stuttgart, Tel Aviv–Ben Gurion, Tokyo–Narita, Valencia, Venice, Vienna, Warsaw–Chopin, Wroclaw,[55] Zagreb
Seasonal: Alicante, Bari, Bergen,[56] Brindisi, Catania, Cork,[57] Figari,[56] Malta, Palermo, Santiago de Compostela, Sarajevo, Sylt,[56] Thessaloniki
Tailwind Airlines Seasonal charter: Antalya
TAP Air Portugal Lisbon, Porto
Thai Airways Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi
Transavia Amsterdam
Tunisair Djerba, Tunis
Seasonal: Enfidha
Turkish Airlines Istanbul–Atatürk
Twin Jet Lyon[58]
Ukraine International Airlines Kiev–Boryspil
United Airlines Newark, Washington–Dulles
Seasonal: San Francisco (begins 8 June 2018)[59]
Vueling Alicante, Barcelona, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Lisbon, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca, Porto, Prague, Rome–Fiumicino, Tenerife–South
Seasonal: Santiago de Compostela
VLM Airlines Antwerp



Airlines Destinations
Turkish Airlines Cargo Algiers, Istanbul–Atatürk


Busiest European routes

Statistics of the Zurich Airport from 1982 to 2014 incl. passengers, transfer passengers, flights handled and freight in metric tons
Zürich Airport in 1956
Zurich Airport with the Swiss Alps visible in the background
Interior view of the landside area
View of runway 14
Swiss International Air Lines maintains its hub at Zürich Airport
Busiest routes at Zurich Airport (2016)[60]
Rank City Total departing passengers
1 United Kingdom London 888,876
2 Germany Berlin 508,589
3 Austria Vienna 492,968
4 Germany Düsseldorf 403,759
5 Netherlands Amsterdam 402,922
6 Germany Frankfurt 330,326
7 France Paris 322,188
8 Spain Barcelona 318,050
9 Germany Hamburg 300,526
10 Spain Madrid 290,174

Busiest intercontinental routes

Busiest intercontinental routes by passengers handled (2016) – Eurostat[61]
Rank City Passengers (departing+arriving)
1 United Arab Emirates Dubai – International 501,817
2 United States New York – JFK 445,142
3 Israel Tel Aviv 429,591
4 Singapore Singapore 391,226
5 Thailand Bangkok – Suvarnabhumi 361,464
6 Hong Kong Hong Kong 352,349
7 United States Newark 252,789
8 Oman Muscat 235,052
9 United States Miami 221,797
10 United States Chicago – O'Hare 186,925
11 United States Boston 181,378
12 United States Los Angeles 178,336
13 United States San Francisco 169,530
14 Canada Montréal – Trudeau 165,637
15 India Delhi 159,176
16 Canada Toronto – Pearson 147,030
17 India Mumbai 145,740
18 Qatar Doha 144,760
19 United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi 143,928
20 Japan Tokyo – Narita 141,934

Top airlines

Zurich Airport Airlines (2015)
Rank Airlines Percentage
1 Switzerland SWISS 54.6%
2 Austria Niki / Switzerland Belair 5.5%
3 Switzerland Edelweiss Air 4.6%
4 Germany Eurowings / Germanwings 2.5%
5 United Kingdom British Airways 2.2%

Passenger development

Zurich Airport Passenger Totals 1950–2016 (millions)
Updated: 17 January 2016

Ground transportation


Zürich Airport railway station is located underneath the Airport Centre. The station has frequent Zürich S-Bahn services, plus direct InterRegio, InterCity and Eurocity services, to many places including Basel, Bern, Biel/Bienne, Brig, Geneva, Konstanz, Lausanne, Lucerne, Munich, Romanshorn, St. Gallen and Winterthur. There are some 13 trains per hour to Zürich Hauptbahnhof, Zürich's main city centre station, with a journey time of between 10 and 15 minutes. By changing trains at Hauptbahnhof, most other places in Switzerland can be reached in a few hours.[62][63]

Bus and tram

In front of the Airport Centre is the airport stop of the Stadtbahn Glattal, a light rail system that interworks with the Zürich tram system, together with a regional bus station. Both the bus station and light rail stop provide service to destinations throughout the Glattal region that surrounds the airport, with the light rail stop being served by tram routes 10 and 12. Tram route 10 also provides a link to Zurich Hauptbahnhof, albeit with a rather longer journey time than that of the railway.[64]


The airport is served by the A51 motorway and other main roads, which link to the airports own road network. Drop-off areas are available by the Airport Centre whilst a total of over 14000 spaces are available in six car parks for short and long term parking. A car hire centre is located in the terminal complex.[65][66][67] The airport is served by a fleet of dedicated airport taxis, which operate from taxi ranks in front of the arrival areas. Alternative chauffeur driven airport limousines can be arranged.[68]

Other facilities

The Circle

The Circle, a complex intended to include a medical center, a conference center, shops, restaurants, offices and hotels, is under construction opposite the Airport Centre. The complex was designed by Japanese architect Riken Yamamoto and is planned for completion in 2018.[69][70]

Company headquarters

Several companies have their headquarters on or about the airport. These include Swiss International Air Lines,[71] Swiss World Cargo,[72] Swiss AviationTraining,[73] Edelweiss Air,[74] gategroup,[75] Helvetic Airways,[76] Swissôtel,[77] and Rega.[78] Other companies that were formerly based on the airport include Swissair[79] and Crossair.[80]

See also


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  7. ^ "Unk". American Aviation. 16: 35. 3 August 1953. 
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  9. ^ Accident description for LZ-BED at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 1 May 2015.
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  11. ^ Accident description for HB-IXM at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 1 May 2015.
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External links