Davos in the Rearview Mirror

Feb 3, 2009
George Larson

The 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, has now come and gone, with participants winging home over the weekend, and it appears that Swiss airports at Zurich, Samedan and Altenrhein managed the traffic load handily, officials say.

"At times our airport looked like an aircraft carrier," Bud Slabbaert, marketing chief for St. Gallen-Altenrhein said today.

NetJets Europe set up a WEF situation room at St. Gallen-Altenrhein, with a dispatcher coordinating all flights to the three area airports. A staff of two managed the operation in Zurich, and the company assigned a captain and a ground transport staffer to Altenrhein.

Aircraft at St. Gallen-Altenrhein could embark and disembark only a hundred feet or so from the FBO terminal, and limousines had ramp access. Helicopters were also only steps away from the arriving and departing jets.

Execujet Zurich had 61 movements on its peak day, and Altenrhein had 112 including four scheduled commercial movements. A report from Zurich said that aircraft were forced to park at some distance from the FBO, requiring a long drive, at the speed limit of 20 mph, taking about 35 minutes for the round trip. The situation put a strain on available staff, according to a report from Execujet.

This was far from a peak year for the WEF--media reports noted the absence of celebrities in favor of members of governments--but the coordination among Swiss airports is likely to endure in future years when traffic returns to its past levels.

Photo: Cessna

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