Switzerland Looks To Reopen On June 28th For Vaccinated Americans

Switzerland is set to re-open to fully vaccinated travelers from the United States and Canada. The news comes just days after the United States relaxed entry requirements for travelers heading to Switzerland.

Swiss Airbus A330
Switzerland will re-open its borders to travelers from the United States in late June. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Swiss border re-opening for North American travelers in late June

Multiple media organizations report that pending final ratification by the Swiss Parliament on 23 June, Switzerland will lay out the welcome mat to fully vaccinated travelers from the United States and Canada on June 28.

“We are extremely happy,” says Switzerland Tourism director GCC Matthias Albrecht. “Now that borders will open, we can’t wait to welcome each one of you.”

Before the travel downturn, Switzerland was enjoying a surge in passenger arrivals from the United States. Across 2019, arrivals from the United States grew 10% to over 1.1 million, the third consecutive year of substantial growth. Off a much smaller population base, 126,198 Canadians also flew to Switzerland. Like their southern neighbors, Canadians were heading to Switzerland in increasing numbers each year.

A United Airlines Boeing 787 heading out off Zurich Airport in Switzerland. Photo: Getty Images

Welcome news for Switzerland’s biggest airport

For Zurich (ZRH) Airport, Switzerland’s biggest airport, the prospect of additional aircraft and passenger traffic from across the Atlantic is good news. The airport has been campaigning to ease travel restrictions, saying passenger numbers through Switzerland’s airports are down 75%, and thousands of jobs are at risk.

“The economic damage to the entire airport ecosystem is huge because international air travel has been severely restricted for more than a year now,” says Stephan Widrig, CEO of Flughafen Zürich AG, the operator of Zurich Airport.

In May, 450,00 passengers moved through ZRH. That is a big improvement on the May 2020 numbers but 83.4% lower than May 2019. There were 8,043 aircraft movements in May, down 67.1% on May 2019 aircraft movements.

“The desire to travel and the easing of travel restrictions by many countries are noticeable at Zurich Airport,” the airport said in a statement accompanying those recent figures.

Far from the 2019 heyday, flights into Zurich from across the North Atlantic are now scarce. United Airlines operates daily flights from both New York’s Newark (EWR) Airport and Washington Dulles (IAD). Air Canada is operating several flights a week between Toronto’s Pearson Airport (YYZ) and Zurich. SWISS is flying into Zurich from Miami International Airport (MIA), New York’s John F Kennedy Airport (JFK), and Newark.

SWISS aircraft at Zurich Airport. Photo: Zurich Airport

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SWISS set to be a big winner

Switzerland’s largest airline, SWISS, is set to be a big beneficiary of the border re-opening. SWISS had already seen growing demand for services from North America (albeit off a very low base) on the back of growing vaccination rates.

“The rise that we have recently seen in our bookings for the summer months clearly shows us how keen people are to travel,” says SWISS Chief Commercial Officer Tamur Goudarzi Pour.

Over June and July, SWISS will fly or resume services to 49 destinations from its key Zurich and Geneva hubs. Over the summer, the airline will operate 85 routes from Zurich, eyeing the leisure and VFR markets. SWISS says this is an improvement on 12 months ago but still well below (50% to 55%) 2019 flying levels.

SWISS says they’ve been tailoring flights to meet market demand. With the borders about to open for vaccinated United States-based travelers, they should soon be bumping up the frequencies of their transatlantic flying.