On 16 July 2023, more than 100,000 air travellers passed through Zurich airport. This is the first time since the Covid pandemic that passenger numbers have reached six figures, reported the airport company.
During the pandemic, some thought attitudes to air travel might change durably as people fell into a routine of holidaying closer to home. In addition, shame associated with the impact of flying on the climate was expected to increasingly curb demand.
However, these predictions appear to have fallen flat. Passenger numbers peaked at Zurich airport at 115,000 in 2019 before plummeting. Passenger numbers now look set to return to this pre-Covid peak, despite significantly more expensive flights.
Data on hotel stays in Switzerland mirror this trend. Domestic guest numbers in Swiss hotels fell by 4.2% between June 2022 and June 2023 as domestic travel has been replaced by foreign travel.
But Swiss hotels are not suffering. Lost domestic guests have been more than replaced by foreign visitors. Foreign guest numbers in Swiss hotels rose by 23% between June 2022 and June 2023.
Michael Stiebe from the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts told SRF that he believes the pandemic not only created pent-up demand but also increased savings. By working more from home people saved money. This has allowed people to travel again despite higher prices.
The return of holiday makers to the air is not limited to Switzerland. The daily number of fights globally in July 2023 was around 230,000, up from less than 70,000 during the depths of the pandemic. In addition, daily flight numbers in 2023 so far have exceeded those in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022, according to flightradar24.
SRF article (in German)