Swiss airports and the Schengen agreements


27.11.2008

On 12 December, there will no longer be 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 that are not part of the Schengen Area must therefore undergo systematic personal controls. Passengers moving within the Schengen Area are not subject to the controls; so the two passenger streams must be separated.

For practical reasons, the separation of passenger streams will not be applied at all Swiss airports handling international traffic until 29 March 2009, when the Summer 2009 air timetable takes effect.

Until that date, therefore, passengers should expect to pass through controls on both departure and arrival as has been the case so far for all flights.

The changes to bring GVA in line with the Schengen processes have required major investment, which was entirely self-financed, of the order of 40 million francs.

It is also important to remember that, 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.

It is however certain that for 60% of GVA’s passengers, those who move within the Schengen Area, the removal of arrival and departure controls will be an added convenience.