A tale of two airports

Geneva and Gatwick airports are often compared to each other. Do we really want Geneva to have the same traffic as Gatwick?

This blog was triggered when I saw that the last flight to leave Geneva last night (actually it was at 26 minutes past midnight this morning, 12 March) was the easyJet flight EZY8485 from Geneva to Gatwick. It was, as they often tell us, because of the late arrival of the incoming aircraft (EZY8480 from Gatwick, which landed just an hour earlier). Although there was snow in Londen yesterday, it is not obvious to me why the flight was so late in. However, problems there were, because it should have been a big Airbus A320, but was downsized to an A319. It is equally not obvious to me why easyJet UK could not have temporarily borrowed a Swiss easyJet aircraft (probably with a crew). However, this did not happen, so Vernier residents had to listen to this very late overflight, whilst people near Gatwick could hear the overflight even later.

Gatwick airport claims to have the most traffic of any single runway airport in the world. The figures that I see show them as having transported last year about 33.8 million passengers (divided between the two terminals) on 242,000 flights: an average of 660 flights per day with 140 passengers per flight. As far as I know, there is very little private or business aviation at atwick.

The director of Geneva airport talks of transporting 25 million passengers in 2020, compared to the 13 million last year. Almost all of these 13 million passengers were on scheduled or charter flights, for which the current average number of passengers per flight in Geneva is 100.

geneva,airport,passengers,movements,2020Looking at this average number of passengers per scheduled or charter flight this century suggests that by 2020 this number could be expected to rise to 130 (ten less than currently at Gatwick). However, even if we suppose that 140 passengers per flight is achieved by 2020, the number of (scheduled plus charter) flights per day needed to get to 25 million passengers would be 490. This would be an increase of 100 flights per day over the corresponding figure of 390 per day in 2012. Considering that Geneva airport currently has sometimes to divert small business jets to nearby airports, it is not obvious how to fit in these extra 100 flights (2.5 hours of runway occupation) without either banishing more business jets (they currently constitute nearly one third of the movements and transport influential people!) or adding more night flights (current figures for 2013 show an increase in night flights of about 10% over the same period in 2012!), or both!

It is about time that the airport director came out with details of his business plan to transport 25 million passengers in 2020. How many flights, how many night flights?

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