Zurich Airport partners adopt joint measures to ensure safe travel

With borders beginning to reopen from June onwards, a first increase is expected in air transport services and passenger numbers. The protection concept for Zurich Airport, which has been jointly devised by the airport operator and further partners such as SWISS, Swissport and the airport police, is intended to provide travellers, visitors and airport personnel with optimum protection through actions and precautions that enable and ensure safe air travel.

Airlines serving Zurich Airport such as Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) and Edelweiss Air plan to restore a substantial part of their services in the next few weeks to offer over 350 flights from Zurich and Geneva to some 70 European destinations. The points to be served include various destinations in Mediterranean countries (such as Barcelona, Madrid, Florence and Rome) and Scandinavia (such as Gothenburg and Copenhagen), along with European centres (such as Paris) and points farther afield (in Turkey, on Cyprus, on the Greek islands and elsewhere). Frequencies are also set to increase on existing routes to points such as Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, Lisbon and London. June will also see the resumption of passenger services from Zurich to a number of long-haul destinations including New York, Chicago, Singapore, Bangkok, Tokyo and Hong Kong, along with Mauritius, Cancun and Punta Cana. And a number of foreign airlines have also announced that they will be expanding their Zurich services again.

The various companies which are active at Zurich Airport have been making extensive preparations to provide enhanced hygiene and protection measures for the passenger process on the ground and in the air. To these ends, the partners concerned have devised a comprehensive protection concept based on the requirements and recommendations of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). In addition to intensifying cleaning schedules and using new robot cleaners, the concept includes more frequent cleaning and disinfecting of contact surfaces such as handrails and baggage carts. Hand sanitizer dispensers have already been provided at over 200 locations, and plexiglass panels have been installed at all desks. The actions have also extended to the provision of Switzerland’s first Selecta “Safety Stations” – vending machines dispensing masks and sanitizer supplies.

Various operational steps are also being taken to avoid traveller concentrations. Since this is not always possible at such a travel hub, all airport users are also being advised to wear masks. The wearing of facemasks will not be compulsory at Zurich Airport, however. “Our paramount priority is to provide travellers, visitors and all our airport personnel with maximum protection,” explains Stefan Tschudin, Chief Operating Officer at airport operator Flughafen Zürich AG. “And to make them feel safe, in their travels and their work.”

Airport police help implement protection concept
The airport police have taken corresponding action to protect travellers and personnel at the airport’s security checkpoint and passport control. “For the Zurich Cantonal Police’s airport police, it’s about providing Flughafen Zürich AG with the support they need to implement their protection concept, specifically where policing robustness and authority are required,” says Airport Police Chief Ueli Zoelly. “And this enables us to ensure that travellers and personnel alike are all kept safe, while still maintaining all the security required.”

To help avoid crowds forming, the overflow levels of the airport’s security checkpoint have been reopened. The security checks themselves are still being conducted in accordance with all the applicable regulations. But care is also being taken here to avoid situations that might entail a higher infection risk. The cantonal police officers on duty will be wearing gloves, along with medical masks if they wish. They are also empowered to require travellers to wear masks if necessary.

Passport control will have as many booths open as possible to ensure that waiting travellers can be processed swiftly while still maintaining full security within the check process. More spacious queuing areas are also being provided to help persons waiting to maintain adequate social distances.

Physical distancing at check-in and boarding
Care will be taken at all points where crowds may form to either keep travellers well spaced apart or ensure that people are adequately protected through plexiglass panels or the wearing of masks. “We’ve taken all the protective actions required, from check-in to boarding, to ensure that people can travel again well protected and with no cause for concern,” explains Bruno Stefani, Station Manager for Swissport Zurich. “And we have adopted various operating measures to pay due regard to the current physical distancing rules as much as we possibly can.”

On the check-in concourses, only every other desk will be staffed wherever possible, to increase the distances between waiting lines. Travellers will also be reminded that they should have a mask with them for their trip. The flights themselves are currently being handled at Docks A and B, where they are also being assigned gates wherever possible that ensure optimum use of the gate zones inside. The airport’s passenger buses have had their maximum capacities reduced. And passengers are having their temperature taken before boarding wherever this is required for their destination or requested by their airline. The boarding process itself is also being metered to ensure that passengers enplane in controlled and limited flows. 

Intensified hygiene measures on board, too
Aboard SWISS flights, too, hygiene actions have been intensified in accordance with the FOPH’s provisions, and service processes and procedures are being modified where necessary. SWISS has also been urging its customers since 4 May to wear a nose and mouth covering on board to help prevent coronavirus transmission. 

“The risk of coronavirus infection aboard an aircraft is still basically low,” says SWISS Chief Operating Officer Thomas Frick. “We have not had a single case of infection on a SWISS flight since the pandemic began. Our aircraft are equipped with the highest-quality HEPA air filters, which clean the cabin air to the standards of an operating theatre. Also, the air in an aircraft circulates vertically, and not the length of the cabin.”

As well as intensifying its cabin cleaning, SWISS will also be issuing all its passengers with disinfectant wipes from June onwards. Certain inflight services – such as the issue of hot towels, duty-free sales and the distribution of newspapers and magazines – have also been suspended until further notice for hygiene reasons (though such reading material will still be available in electronic form). Additional inflight announcements will be made to draw passengers’ attention to the newly-adopted actions.

For their service on board, SWISS cabin personnel have been urged since the beginning of May to wear facemasks when in direct contact with their guests. Various adjustments have also been made to the service processes here, to limit the length of contact time with the guest while still offering them an attentive and appealing service of the usual high SWISS quality. 

Actions taken to be constantly reappraised
For Zurich Airport, protecting travellers, visitors and employees is a paramount priority. The actions being taken to do so will be constantly reappraised by all the airport partners and modified wherever necessary. The overall aim in all these endeavours is to gradually return to normal air travel activities. “Flughafen Zürich and its partners are ready and prepared to resume their operations with higher passenger numbers,” COO Stefan Tschudin confirms. “But for all these actions to be effectively adopted, we also need the help and the understanding of all our travellers, visitors and employees, so that we can all ensure safe and orderly flight and airport operations.”

Further information is available on the airport partners’ websites:
Flughafen Zürich: https:// www.flughafen-zuerich.ch/en/passengers/news/corona/general-information
SWISS: www.swiss.com 

Suitable visual material will be found here: www.brand.zrh.ch/media