Geneva airport is aiming to invest in Bron and Saint-Exupéry, Lyon’s two airports, as part of a privatisation launched by the French government, according to 20 Minutes.
Bron airport, opened in 1920, lies around ten kilometres east of Lyon’s centre. Without traffic the 155 km drive from Bron to Geneva airport takes around 1 hour 30 minutes.
Saint-Exupéry airport, eponymous with the author of the well-known French book Le Petit Prince, opened in 1975 after deciding the more central Bron airport would not be expanded. It is slightly closer (148km) to Geneva airport but requires roughly the same hour and a half behind the wheel to reach.
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Geneva airport recently put itself forward as a potential investor in these two airports. “We are not alone” said Robert Deillon, the airport’s chief executive.
The investment would be via an independently managed entity linked to the French banking group BPCE (Banque populaire – Caisse d’Epargne). Investors are now waiting for a response from the French government, which has decided to privatise part of the airports in Nice and Lyon, according to Robert Deillon. “We are interested only in Lyon’s airports and not the one in Nice” he added. Geneva airport already works closely with Saint-Exupéry in terms operational procedures, for example, when aircraft have to be rerouted because of weather or other reasons.
New boss at Geneva airport
Robert Deillon is unlikely to be the one signing any deal. Chief executive since 2006, he’s planning to retire soon, and will be replaced by 56 year old André Schneider, currently vice-president of EPFL in Lausanne, and former chief executive of the World Economic Forum who also worked at CERN.
Record passenger numbers in 2015
In 2015, a record number of 15.8 million passengers passed through Geneva airport. In addition, numbers for the first quarter of 2016 were 7.2% higher than the first quarter of 2015. Airport revenue for 2015 was CHF 424 million, delivering a profit of CHF 75 million. In 2015, the airport was able to invest CHF 112 million without increasing its debts.
EasyJet is by far the airport’s largest carrier, accounting for 43.2% of the market. Swiss (15%) and British Airways (4.7%) sit well behind the low-cost operator. London is the most popular destination.
Big extension underway
Due for completion in 2020, a big project to extend the east wing of the airport is now underway. The new building will be able to serve larger aircraft. At the same time passenger, bagage and check in areas will be remodeled.
Robert Deillon assured 20 Minutes that the airport’s development would not involve an extension of runway opening times. “We won’t use the time band between 5 and 6am. It’s not attractive for us” he stated. Currently the law requires Swiss airports to close between midnight and 5am.