Zurich Airport

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Continent: Europe Country: Switzerland
Zurich Airport
Location Zurich, Switzerland
Airport type Commercial
Website [www.flughafen-zuerich.ch www.flughafen-zuerich.ch]
Overview map [ ]
Tower 118.1
Ground 121.850 (North) 121.750 (South)
Clearance 121.800
Approach 118.000 (West via GIPOL)
120.750 (North/East) via AMIKI/RILAX
125.325 Final (rarely used):
ATIS 128.525 (phone: +41438162294)

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


Runway:Length:Equipment:Usage:In use:Diagram:
102500m-Departing runway with winds from the east. No landingsrareZurich diag.jpg
143300mILSMain landing runway, no takeoffsalways
163700mILSMain departing runway for heavies, rarely a landingfrequently
282500mVORDMEMain departing runway, landings in the eveningalways
323300m-Departing runway in the morning, no landingsrare
342700mILSLanding rwy morning, sometimes heavy-TOsmedium

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
06.00-07.00Landing Rwy34
Departure Rwy32
07.00-21.00Landing Rwy14
Departure Rwys 16&28
21.00-00.30Landing Rwy28
Departure Rwys32&34
06.00-09.00Landing Rwy34
Departure Rwy32
09.00-20.00Landing Rwy14
Departure Rwys 16&28
20.00-00.30Landing Rwy28
Departure Rwys32&34

Terminals and parking stands

The terminal area. Cutout of Spotting-Points graphic below

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. Many longhaul flights (A332/A343) are being handled here aswell as some european flights (A32X, RJ). Besides Swiss sometimes other European carriers can be found here, for example BA.
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. Now this terminal is mostly being used to park longhaulers which stay for a longer time. For example SAA A342, Malasian B777, or the MNG A300F. On the southern side there are new stands for regional aircrafts (CRJs, ERJs, ...) which are served by bus. (Lufthansa, Alitalia, Air France)
Best view from: Spotting Point 1

Terminal E (Midfield) The terminal opened in 2003 is the point where all longhaul flights of foreign airlines are handled. (UAE, SIA, MAS, UAL, AAL, DAL, COA, ACA, KAL, SAA, JAL). Also there are some longhauls of Swiss (mostly to the USA) as well as most European carriers here..
Best view from: Spotting Point 2, but only the aircrafts 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) von DLH, SAS, AUA and IBE can be spotted.
Best view from:: Spotting Point 1 (a little far away) and 5


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, South African, 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!


[2]Arrivals next day (avail. from 1900LT)


[4]Departures next day (avail. from 1900LT)

Download Winter-Timetable 05/06 as PDF

Peter Frei/Aerpix.net provides us with an excellent service as he always lists the specials of the next day on his homepage, available from 19.00LT. aerpix.net

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.

AirlineCallsignFrom/ToArrival:Departure:AircraftDays: (1=Monday)
Air CanadaACA787/879Toronto10.0511.40B7631234567
AmericanAAL64/65NY JFK10.4513.00B7631234567
EmiratesUAE087/088Dubai13.2015.45A345/A3431234567 (A343: 1+3)
JALJAL451/452Tokyo NRT15.5517.50B7441--4-6-
MalaysianMAS10/9Kuala Lumpur06.1512.50B772-2-4-6-
South AfricanSAA274/275Johannesbourg07.0720.25A3421234567
SwissSWR16/17NY JFK08.1510.00A332/A3431234567
SwissSWR40/41Los Angeles15.5512.50A343dep: 1-3456- arr: -2-4567
SwissSWR96/97Sao Paulo11.0522.30A343dep: -234-67 arr: 1-3456-
SwissSWR272/273Duala via Malabo06.1509.45A332dep: -2-4- arr: -3-5-
SwissSWR276/277Yaounde via Malabo06.2512.15A332dep: -6- arr: -7-
SwissSWR288/289Johannesbourg06.1022.20A343dep: 123-567 arr: 1234-67
SwissSWR292/293Dar es Salam via Nairobi06.2509.45A332dep: 1-3-5 arr: -2-4-6
SwissSWR254/255Tel Aviv19.1509.50A3431234567
SwissSWR228/229Jeddah via Riyadh06.2012.40A332dep: 2-4-7 arr: 3-5-1
SwissSWR242/243Muscat via Dubai06.251240A3321234567
SwissSWR168/169Tokyo NRT15.5513.05A343dep: 12-4567 arr: 123-567
SwissSWR138/139Hong Kong06.2022.20A3431234567
SwissSWR182/183Singapore via Bangkok06.2522.20A343dep: -234567 arr: 12-4567
ThaiTHA970/971Bangkok07.1013.30A346/A3431234567 (A346: 2-4-6)
UnitedUAL936/937Wash. D.C.08.1011.45B7631234567


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

Stereo-Feed of Lower/Upper-Radar
Feed of Tower, Arrival, Departure

Locations to Avoid


Regular Traffic

Facilities and Transportation


Until this article is finished, please take a look at the detailed spotting-description on www.planepics.org