Please outline the benefits of flying to Sion Airport rather than Geneva?
Aline Bovier: Sion Airport offers many significant advantages to both business and leisure travellers. Time is the most important commodity our passengers have these days and flying to and from Sion can offer a huge save in time. Geneva Airport operates almost at capacity; currently there are no flight slots available and business jet traffic has saturated the airport. Consequently, passengers departing on private, charter or scheduled flights must allow much more time just to clear security at the airport, in addition to time spent in the departure lounge, at the gate and on the aircraft while taxiing to the runway. For many travellers, this has become frustrating and unacceptable.
At Sion Airport we offer our outbound passengers the opportunity to save time on their journey in several ways. Parking and vehicle drop-off areas are immediately outside the airport. Check-in desks and passport control are located in the main terminal, just a short distance from an aircraft waiting on the apron. Departing passengers spend minimal time in the terminal and the short taxi distance means they’re airborne very quickly.
Our inbound leisure passengers can be on the ski slopes of Verbier less than one hour after landing. Our business travellers are just 45-60 minutes from the headquarters of various multinational organisations based in Montreux, Vevey and Lausanne. Our private jet clients enjoy hangar facilities and VIP handling. All of these conveniences create the efficient, personal and friendly service that Sion Airport is renowned for.
Which facilities and services differentiate you from your competitors?
AB: It’s often assumed that a smaller airport such as Sion lacks the services or facilities of a large airport. On the contrary, we’re able to offer our size as an advantage to passengers. We’re small and flexible, which enables us to be entirely service-orientated and offer a highly personalised experience. This is evident in the loyalty of our business aviation users, many of whom have used Sion Airport for years.
How has Sion adapted to an increased demand for air travel, especially in the business jet sector?
AB: Business aviation has been our development focus in recent years. The Valais region is home to many of the best mountain resorts in Europe, all of which are popular with wealthy property owners and travellers. This has fuelled demand for private jet facilities and we’ve responded to this with dedicated hangars and tarmac for private and business aviation. Additionally, we’ve created a private customs and immigration facility to offer our passengers maximum privacy as they arrive and depart from Sion Airport.
What plans for expansion does the airport have over the next five years?
AB: Business aviation continues to be our top priority at Sion Airport and we’re looking forward to building new relationships with new partners in the future. A further focus is to take advantage of the airport’s unique location. The appetite for year-round activity holidays is growing across Europe, particularly in the UK. Sion Airport offers very short transfer times to some of the best winter and summer mountain destinations in Europe.
Currently we’re working on a project with a new airline, which will hopefully see Sion Airport become its base from December 2017. This new airline will open up routes into the Valais from several regional airports in the UK, as well as Brussels and Rotterdam.