Are Geneva’s slot limitations leading to a private jet decline?

Geneva Airport is one of the busiest private jet airports in Europe, second only to Paris Le Bourget. In 2014 there were over 35,000 private jet take-offs and landings – that’s an average of 96 flight movements per day. Geneva is busy year round, but sees its busiest period during the winter ski season, now approaching.

See more: The Top 20 private jet airports in Europe

Geneva Airport

However despite its popularity, Geneva has actually seen a small but steady decline in private jet movements in recent months – when other European airports are generally static or seeing a slow upturn. In August, demand at Geneva was 8% down on the same month last year.

What’s behind this downward trend at Geneva?

Unlike Paris Le Bourget, Geneva is also an airline airport. So private jets have to compete for runway space with the airport’s airline customers.

And, by contrast to private jet movements, airline flights at Geneva airport are seeing considerable growth – with low cost airlines making a strong success of the destination. So with a single runway at the airport for all types of flights, it’s become harder and harder for private jet companies to secure a slot.

There is no other airport in Europe where airline and business aviation flights compete so fiercely for space. And many industry experts see Geneva’s limited slot availability a factor in its lack of growth for business aviation.

It can make flight planning challenging. During the ski season and for last minute flight requests especially, we’ll sometimes be able to secure a landing slot at Geneva for the aircraft to position in, but not always a matching departure slot to suit the client – or the other way around.

Which airports can be used as alternatives to Geneva?

So this does mean that we have to increasingly look at alternative airport options for clients wanting to use Geneva at short notice, or during busy periods. These include:

Annecy, 40km away (slot and time restricted)

Chambery, 89km away (slot and time restricted)

Lyon Bron, 154km away (plenty of availability and flexible opening hours)

But of course some clients will only want to use Geneva. and won’t consider an alternative airport.

How could Geneva Airport create more availability for private aviation?

Building another runway is the most obvious answer to increasing capacity for private jet flights at Geneva. But obviously that would require major investment and development – and with the limited land space, may not be possible.

But there are other possibilities, such as building a new General Aviation terminal and parking apron, so that private jets and airlines are kept apart. This can really improve efficiency, as has been proven at the German airports Munich and Frankfurt.

Private jet traffic jam

Or taking a new look at the opening hours, so that quieter aircraft (such as modern private jets) could use the airport outside of the current hours, or allow later landing-only slots (less noise impact than take-off).

Or revisit Air Traffic approval and departure routings to expedite private jet traffic – which can descend and climb much faster than airlines.

It may also be possible to review the turnaround times for aircraft. Private jets can – and should – be treated more like F1 cars in a pit stop. 15 minute turnarounds are possible, which would allow more aircraft parking to be freed up.

Despite these challenges, there is no doubt that Geneva is still an airport in major demand and will continue to be so. For now, we recommend our clients book further ahead than they might do elsewhere, in order to secure their preferred flight timings.

For advice and pricing on private jet charter to Geneva, contact our Flight Team (24 hours) on +44 1747 642 777.