Monday, January 02, 2012

Director of Sion airport: Focus is on luxury. Private jets cannot be photographed.

The waltz private jets intensifies this week in the Valais skies. Traffic that Zion wants to develop until the airport profitable. Zion is a stage for tourists on the road stations Haute-Savoie and sometimes speaking Switzerland

The ballet jet crosses the Valais skies. 272 movements on the tarmac of Zion in Monday alone. "That's the big boom in recent days," sighs an employee to board. Behind him, the phone rings. A plane from the Caribbean has announced the next day. A few minutes earlier, a large jet occupied by two passengers took the air to Milan.

Since taking office eight years ago, Bernard Karrer as director of Sion Airport, Aviation said business has more than doubled. Private companies are now some seventy to land in Valais, including NetJets, "the largest business aviation company in the world," says Bernard Karrer. "His choice has convinced its competitors to imitate," said he.

Sion has a concession that only four international regional airports have won in Switzerland. No queue at customs or baggage, it attracts wealthy tourists who join the Valais resorts, but also Gstaad or the Haute-Savoie. The airline encourages them to acquire a second home, or to deposit their papers in the Valais resorts, enjoying the passage of fiscal package. These residents are sometimes several trips a week between their cottage and European capitals.

On the tarmac, employees carry a small de-icing equipment. Prohibition of registration or shoot his passenger. "We have confidentiality agreements with companies," said Bernard Karrer. "That's what made us successful with this client." A few minutes later, the aircraft took off for Paris. Moving costs on average 4000 euros per flight hour.

Since 2005, the tracks Sion host a helicopter company that specializes in VIP travel. Equipped with nine air-conditioned units, leather seats and sound art, she makes four to five trips a day at the height of the season. "In the region, we will mainly Verbier, Montana and Gstaad," says Jean-Daniel Berthod, founder of the company Heli-Alps Valais with other drivers. "But we are asked so frequently to go to Cannes, Courchevel, Paris ..." Its sales, secret, "continues to grow," he adds.

The luxury sector has no crisis. "We see less of English traders who were 35-40 years every weekend," said one officer at Alpine Jet assistance. "But the rich are very rich. A Russian is often arise in Zion with his private jet within which there is a bedroom, a shower, a living room ... This is a flat wheel! "

Despite the procession of millionaires in the high season, Sion airport is in deficit. Every year he loses about a million francs are paid, half by the city of Zion, the other by the canton of Valais. "The airport is an excellent vector image to the township and we subsidize it justifies its existence," said Jean-Michel Cina, State Councilor in charge of tourism. "The operation of an airport is very expensive," says Bernard Karrer. "The only way to make it profitable is to increase traffic." New hangars should be constructed in 2012, financed by private investors.

Part of this area will be used for maintenance and aircraft interiors. "The clients we seek are not concerned to know the price it cost them. What is important for them is to stop in a pleasant, while their plane is being repaired. "The remaining premises will be used as garages for companies seeking a base in central Europe. "The parking is a very rare commodity while almost all airports are clogged," argues Bernard Karrer. Benefits that would increase the customer base in the coming years.

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