By closing out 1997 with a bottom line of 482 scheduled and charter passengers less than in 1996 (6'117'786 as against 6'118'268), Geneva International Airport (GIA) shows a balance that is particularly satisfying given the bad start to the year: following Swissair's decision to withdraw most of its long-haul flights from Geneva, there was a 5% drop in passenger figures for the first two months of the year. After that, the situation recovered steadily, with Geneva benefiting from increased local traffic, which reflected a certain degree of economic recovery. It may be noted that the main foreign airlines, which increased their flight frequencies to their respective hubs, saw an increase in traffic (KLM +12%, Lufthansa +9%, Air France +7%, Alitalia +5%, British Airways +4%), while Swissair's traffic fell by 7.8%. Crossair showed strong growth of 28.2%, partly from taking over a number of routes previously operated by Swissair.
Excellent financial results
1997 closed with excellent financial results, with a net profits of CHF 7'228'852, the second largest figure in the history of the Airport. It should be noted that half the profits will be paid to the State of Geneva, as required by the Airport Act. Since the Airport gained its autonomy on 1 January 1994, GIA will thus have paid, in addition to amortisation and interest on investments, more than 11 million francs to the Republic and Canton of Geneva. These excellent financial results are a perfect illustration of the statements by GIA management to the effect that Swissair's decision did not endanger the Airport itself, but was diminishing the attractiveness of the whole region.
Review of aviation law
One important event for Geneva International Airport took place in Bern, with the adoption by the State Council of the review of the aviation law, which had already been voted in by the National Council in September 1997. The main objectives sought by the whole of French-speaking Switzerland were thus achieved. First, the repeal of article 103 of the law, thus abolishing Swissair's previous monopoly. It is true that the airline is still "protected" until 2008 on the routes that it is actually operating. The parliamentary decision does however leave open the possibility for other Swiss airlines to fly routes out of Swiss airports where Swissair does not operate.
On that point, the review of the law takes into account properly the interests of national airports, including the main regions of the country. It also introduces a multi-designation clause into negotiations over air traffic rights with foreign countries, which allows the designation of several airlines to fly regular commercial connections.
Finally, GIA's efforts in recent years have been recognised by passengers "polled" in 1997 by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as part of a huge world-wide survey. Geneva International Airport was rated world's best airport for passengers travelling for pleasure and, the best reward, it is fifth in the world overall.