Switzerland's Sion airport plans expansion to accommodate foreign skiers

The Local Switzerland
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Switzerland's Sion airport plans expansion to accommodate foreign skiers
Alps make the approach into Sion airport challenging. Photo by Nolan Krattinger on Unsplash

Switzerland already has three international airports — Zurich, Geneva, and Basel EuroAirport — but another one could join the ranks as well.


Right now, the single-runway Sion airport operates light-aircraft flights to European destinations like Rome, St. Tropez, and Palma de Majorca, among others.

However, as the Valais capital is a gateway to the Alps, cantonal authorities are reportedly in discussions with airlines to expand the airport,  so it could accommodate more charter flights bringing skiers visiting from abroad to the local slopes.

“We want it to become an important entry and exit point for the Valais Alps,” Christian Bitschnau, the city’s deputy mayor told Le Temps newspaper.

“The idea is to do as many incomings as possible during the winter months, as is currently the case in Innsbruck in Austria and in Chambéry in France.” 

Both SWISS and EasyJet are cited as potential airlines that would connect Sion with European cities.


Constraints and competition

There are, however, some pitfalls to overcome before the expansion can begin.

For instance, dense mountain areas make approaches by air particularly difficult.

Also, the airport is still under contract with the Swiss Air Force, and must give priority to military, rather than civilian, aviation.

It still remains to be seen if the canton’s plans actually materialise, especially since EasyJet, on whose presence the canton is counting (as the airline operates numerous flights during the winter season bringing British skiers to Swiss slopes), has not committed at this point.

“It is too early to say” whether EasyJet would use the expanded Sion airport, according to the airline’s CEO Jean-Marc Thévenaz.

EasyJet currently prefers to fly into Geneva, 160 km away, which has “a much better infrastructure. ” 

From there, Valais’ ski resorts can be reached by train in two hours, Thévenaz said.


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