Airports in Switzerland are preparing for the influx of business aviation traffic headed to World Economic Forum (WEF), held each year in the resort town of Davos. Based on past years, there could be as many as 1,000 private jet flights in the area for the event, which begins on January 23 and runs through January 26.
“Unlike other popular events for private jets, such as the Super Bowl or Champions’ League Final, WEF is unique for the industry in that we receive bookings from our offices all over the world, rather than just one or two locally,” noted Andy Christie, the group director of executive jets at charter provider Air Charter Service. “In the past couple of years, along with flights arranged through our European offices, we have had bookings from our Hong Kong, India, and U.S. operations. No other event has quite such a global appeal."
The four airports that handle the bulk of the WEF traffic are Zurich, Dübendorf, St. Gallen-Altenrhein, and St. Moritz. According to industry data provider WingX Advance, the average number of aircraft movements for those airports is normally 65 a day during January. For the week of the WEF that swells to a daily average of 218 operations, an increase of 335 percent, with the busiest days topping out at 300.
"We're looking forward to welcoming our clients visiting this year’s World Economic Forum to our facilities in Zurich and St. Gallen-Altenrhein,” said Basil Gamper, manager of Execujet’s Zurich facility. “Last year, we successfully handled around 300 business aircraft movements during the event and we anticipate looking after the same [number] this year, although it’s too early to confirm exact numbers yet.” For the 2017 event, Jet Aviation handled 592 movements, 1,320 passengers and 296 conference aircraft at Zurich and Dübendorf.
Christie noted that large-cabin business jets tend to be the most popular among WEF attendees, with Gulfstream GV/550s and Bombardier Globals being used more than 100 times last year. “With the length of some of the journeys, these slightly larger aircraft would have been needed, but with such wealthy individuals attending, they can afford to use such aircraft from wherever they were coming,” he said.