|Many airlines have modified their schedules as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, please consult a flight tracking site such as FlightAware or FlightRadar24 or airline web sites for current flight information.|
Some areas are restricting non-essential activities in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Please ensure that spotting is not temporarily prohibited by a local public health order before heading to the airport.
|Continent: Europe||Country: Switzerland|
|Overview map||[ ]|
|Ground||121.850 (North) 121.750 (South)|
|Approach||118.000 (West via GIPOL)
120.750 (North/East) via AMIKI/RILAX
125.325 Final (rarely used):
|ATIS||128.525 (phone: +41438162294)|
|Plane Spotting Hotels guide|
Zurich airport is the only airport of the city of Zurich, the Swiss centre of finance and economy.
The airport is located about 10 kilometers northeast of the city and can easily be reached by car, bus or train.
Today there are about 100 airlines offering almost 150 connections to every continent in the world except Australia. 17.3 million passengers were handled in 2004. In 2003 the new terminal, terminal E, also called "Midfield", was opened. Three runways, most of which are equipped with an ILS-system are providing a smoothly running service.
Runways, Terminals and their usage
Because of many people living around the airport are complaining about the noise, the airport authority had to make a detailed concept of runway usage. It is listed in the following table. Of course changes can be made because of reasons like weather, so I recommend listening to the ATIS (128.525) before going spotting.
|Weekdays (Mo-Fr)||Weekend, public holidays in southern Germany|
Terminals and parking stands
At Zurich airport there are three Terminals, Terminal 1 (former A), Terminal 2 (former B), Terminal E (former Midfield).
In the table below is listed which airplanes can be seen in which area.
|Terminal 1 (A)||This terminal is mostly used by Swiss for its European destinations using A32X and ARJ. All longhaul flights by Swiss (A332/A343) have moved to Terminal E. Some other European carriers can be found here, for example British Airways.|
Best view from: Spotting Points 1 and 2
|Terminal 2 (B)||Terminal 2 was closed when Terminal E was opened and the finger docks were demounted. In recent years the interior was used for events, but a complete reconstruction is starting in order to meet criteria for Schengen/non-Schengen traffic. As of Summer 2008, no more longhaul aircraft are being parked at Terminal 2 during the day. Due to a new fence erected for the construction work, only regional aircraft from LX, LH and AF are being parked next to Terminal 2; those longhaul aircraft that used to be parked here throughout the morning now use the cargo apron on the opposite side of runway 16/34.
Terminal 2 will be shortened in order to make space for a dual taxiway and will receive an additional level in order to seperate arriving from departing passengers.
Note, that from end of October 2008 onwards, the observation deck on Terminal 2 is scheduled to be closed for the time of reconstruction. The airport is said to provide enhanced access to the observation deck on Terminal E by bus (details to follow in time). From what was disclosed by local staff, a observation deck will be part of the remodelled Terminal 2, but likely it will be enclosed in glass.Best view from: Spotting Point 1
|Terminal E (Midfield)||The terminal opened in 2003 is the point where all longhaul flights are handled. (Swiss, Emirates, Singapore, Malaysian, United, American, Delta, Continental, Air Canada, Korean, JAL). Gates are also used by charter airlines (Edelweiss, Belair, Air Berlin, ...).|
Best view from: Spotting Point 2, but only the aircraft on the western side of the terminal which is about 1/3 of all aircrafts.
|Mike-Stands||South of Terminal 2 there are the Mike-Stands (designated C and D but served by Taxiway Mike). These are stands served by bus. On these stands mostly medium airliners (A32X, B737, MD8X) from Lufthansa, SAS, Austrian and Iberia can be spotted.
Best view from: Spotting Point 1 (a little far away) and 5
Using an airband receiver can be very helpful to know what's going on. Luckily using airband receivers in Switzerland is allowed and police ignores it. I have never had any problems and there are many enthusiasts using airband receivers here. I recommend listening to the tower because it is the most used frequency and you know about every landing and takeoff that is being performed. Frequencies are listed at the beginning of this article.
There are different streams of Zurich-ATC at LiveATC.net
In Zurich there are plenty of spotting positions some of which are really excellent. I designed a layer with all spotting-points for "Google Earth". Download (1,3KB)
The spotting-tips below refer to the numbers shown on the graphic on the right.
The first points (point 1 - point 5) are located at the airport. You can get there by car, by bus or by train.
Public transport is very well organised around the airport, the train station is located right in the airport, the bus terminal in front of the building. There are trains from Zurich Main station (Zurich HB) to the airport about every 15 minutes. The airport is an important bus-hub for the whole region.
Position 1: Observation Deck Terminal 2
The observation deck which is located on the roof of the whole terminal 2 is probably the most famous spotting point, because it is easy to reach, you have a great view on the planes as well as a restaurant. Since terminal 2 has been shut down there isn't so much action anymore - nevertheless the observation deck remains an excellent spotting point, for example to watch the outbounds on rwy16. The entrance fee is 2 francs, the location is open from 08.00-21.00 in the summer (27.3.-31.10) and 09.00-18.00 in the winter (1.11.-26.3.) At the entrance to the observation desk there is a safety check like for normal passengers, but there are no restrictions for liquids. Tickets can be bought in the kiosk right beside the entrance. Official homepage of the observation deck
Getting there: In the airport: Follow the signs to terminal 2 or "observation desk"
Equipment: Large observation desk with a shop, a restaurant, toilets, children's playground. Ticket shop for bus tours
Visible: Departures Rwy16, landings&departures Rwy34, aircraft taxiing on Echo, aircraft parked at terminal 2
Zoom: Je nach Perspektive. 100-300mm für Rwy16-TOs und Rwy34-Landungen, 50-150mm für E-taxiing, 17-100 für Flugzeuge am Terminal
Time: early morning until 1-2 pm
Position 2: Observation Deck Terminal E (Midfield)
When planning the new terminal they seem to have thought of the visitors and included an observation desk. This one is located on the western end of the roof, and you have access to about 1/3 of the terminal.
This observation desk can only be reached by bus departing from the obs-deck terminal 2 (Point 1) on Wednesdays (13.15-16.45) and on the weekend (11.45-16.45) every 30 minutes. Adolescents (6-16 years) have to pay 2 franks for a ticket, adults 4 franks. Tickets can be bought at the ticket office on the observation deck Terminal 2 (point 1)
On this observation deck you have a great view on foreign heavies and you are nearer to departures on Rwy28, although you might be facing into the sun. Furthermore, you have an excellent view onto Rwy16/34!
Getting there: Get to point 1, buy a ticket and do a bus-ride.
Equipment: Quite a large area, equipped with vending machines and toilets
Visible: Aircrafts at terminal E, Takeoffs Rwy28, 16, 34, aircrafts taxiing to Rwy16
Zoom: Depending on the target. 100-300mm for TOs, 17-100mm for parked aircraft
Time: early morning until 3pm
Because of Zurich being quite an important international HUB there are some interesting planes around waiting to be spotted. Besides the big European carriers which usually send their standard medium equipment to Zurich, many big carriers from other continents can be seen here arriving with their heavies. Some of these are: American, Continental, Delta, Emirates, JAL, Malaysian, Singapore, Thai, United. In addition to that you have the Swiss lognhaul-fleet (9 A332 + 9 A343) as well as the heavies of local charter airlines Edelweiss (1 A332) and Belair (1 B763) which you don't see that often in Europe. To be up to date in terms of traffic the best thing is to have a look at the official online timetable which even displays the registrations!
Arrivals next day (avail. from 1900LT)
Departures next day (avail. from 1900LT)
The following table covers the heavies of the Summer flightplan 2005. It is not accurate anymore and simply intended to give you an impression of what's going on at Zurich.
|Emirates||UAE087/088||Dubai||13.20||15.45||A345/A343||1234567 (A343: 1+3)|
|Swiss||SWR40/41||Los Angeles||15.55||12.50||A343||dep: 1-3456- arr: -2-4567|
|Swiss||SWR96/97||São Paulo||11.05||22.30||A343||dep: -234-67 arr: 1-3456-|
|Swiss||SWR272/273||Duala via Malabo||06.15||09.45||A332||dep: -2-4- arr: -3-5-|
|Swiss||SWR276/277||Yaounde via Malabo||06.25||12.15||A332||dep: -6- arr: -7-|
|Swiss||SWR288/289||Johannesbourg||06.10||22.20||A343||dep: 123-567 arr: 1234-67|
|Swiss||SWR292/293||Dar es Salam via Nairobi||06.25||09.45||A332||dep: 1-3-5 arr: -2-4-6|
|Swiss||SWR228/229||Jeddah via Riyadh||06.20||12.40||A332||dep: 2-4-7 arr: 3-5-1|
|Swiss||SWR242/243||Muscat via Dubai||06.25||1240||A332||1234567|
|Swiss||SWR168/169||Tokyo NRT||15.55||13.05||A343||dep: 12-4567 arr: 123-567|
|Swiss||SWR182/183||Singapore via Bangkok||06.25||22.20||A343||dep: -234567 arr: 12-4567|
|Thai||THA970/971||Bangkok||07.10||13.30||A346/A343||1234567 (A346: 2-4-6)|
Facilities and Transportation
Until this article is finished, please take a look at the detailed spotting-description on www.planepics.org