Our Geneva Airport spotting guide, for aviation enthusiasts visiting this interesting Swiss airport.
Geneva’s airport is located in the area of Cointrin to the north of the city, and alongside the border with France. It has one main runway, with a smaller grass runway used by light aircraft.
There is one passenger terminal, with a fairly unique system of remote satellites with their own aircraft gates, linked by underground passage to the main building. Since 1956, an exchange of territory has been agreed with France, whereby the terminal allows passengers destined for France to exit via different channels and ultimately onto the road heading straight to the nearby French border. For departing passengers, a separate area of the terminal has been set aside for those travelling to France. Naturally Air France is the dominant user of this area.
Geneva is very much an international city, with organisations based here including the European headquarters of the United Nations. There are also many conferences held in Geneva annually, with the European Business Aviation Convention (EBACE) the most notable for spotters. This all bodes very well for the airport, which as a result handles more business jet movements than most other European airports, and is also high on the list of most European airlines. Additionally during the colder winter months, Geneva plays host to an influx of leisure passengers destined for the nearby ski resorts in the Alps. Sadly for the enthusiast, the excellent viewing gallery remains closed, but there are rumours of a new one being developed in the future. Stay tuned!
What You’ll See
Geneva isn’t as busy as Zurich, but it has an interesting mix of airliner traffic. It is a base for Swiss and easyJet Switzerland, and a major draw here is the amount of biz jet traffic.
Airlines of note include:
- Air Algerie
- Air China
- Air Mauritius
- Air Moldova
- El Al
- Kuwait Airways
- Middle East Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Jordanian
- Ukraine International
- Ural Airlines
Cargo airliners include ASL Airlines Belgium and DHL Aviation.
Biz jets can be found in numerous locations around the airfield, marked on the map below. TAG Aviation has a ramp in the south-western corner of the airfield, whilst biz jets also park on a remote ramp to the north east and also near the general aviation area to the north of the runway.
Keep an eye out for regular military and government operators flying in and out.
Finally, look out for retired Boeing 737-200 F-GCJL which is used by the fire service, to the north-east of the terminal.
(Click on the map to navigate)
1 Runway 23
When aircraft are arriving over the lake, follow the road from the terminal towards Lausanne. Exit at Gd-Saconnex and follow signs for France. Take the first right after pass over the highway. Turn onto the road Chemin Des Clys and find somewhere to park. Bus route 28 from the terminal passes nearby this spot in the direction of Jardin Botanique. Get off at Tunnel Routier stop and walk the rest. This is good for photography in the morning. You will also walk past the remote biz jet ramp where aircraft often stay longer, or are stored.
2 Runway 05
At the Runway 05 end, leave the terminal and head for Meyrin. Turn right at the lights for Meyrin, and then turn right at the Tag Aviation signpost. After a U-turn, you will pass some buildings before the road turns left. Park in the car park on the right and then walk back in the direction you came from, and down a pedestrian path which leads to a fence near the runway threshold. Bus 28 to Hopital La Tour leaves the terminal in this direction. Alight at Blandonnet and walk towards Tag Aviation and the pedestrian path.
3 General Aviation and Aero Bistro
On the northern side of the airfield is the general aviation area, which also sees more executive jets parking. Along Route H. C. Forestier you’ll find the Aero Bistro next to the Aero Club, which has refreshments and views of the runway. A short walk further leads you to the biz jet parking ramp.
NH Geneva Airport Hotel
Av. De Mategnin 21, Geneva 1217 | +41 22 989 9999 | www.nh-hotels.com
One of the best-placed hotels at Geneva Airport for the enthusiast. Although only Superior rooms offer views, the ones that do face the threshold of Runway 05. The hotel is also close to the spotting location at this end of the runway.
Holiday Inn Express
Route de Pré-Bois 16, 1215 Geneva | +41 22 939 39 39 | www.holidayinn.com
A short walk from the terminal. Rooms on higher floors facing the airport have views of aircraft departing, particularly if using runway 23. However, you’ll need good binoculars or flight tracking websites to tie them up. Photography not possible.