Zurich Airport has opened its 1.2 billion franc ($1.3 billion) conference, leisure and retail complex to the public – amid the coronavirus pandemic which has curtailed travel by plane to a net.
‘The Circle’ project, designed by Japanese architect Riken Yamamoto, includes two hotels, a medical center, a large conference center, offices, restaurants, space for retailers to show their products and interact with customers, as well as recreational facilities.
“We realize that we are opening the Circle in a difficult time,” said Stefan Feldmann of Zurich Airport, adding that this will not prevent the addition of other attractions to the site in the coming months.
In the first six months of this year, passenger numbers fell by 64.3% with little prospect of a return to normal until 2024. This resulted in a loss of CHF 27.5 million ($30.3 million) in the first half for Switzerland’s busiest airport.
But that hasn’t stopped the airport from opening the doors to the public for its 200,000 square meter flagship project, which has been in the works for many years. The Circle is jointly owned by airport operators and insurance giant Swiss Life.
Zurich is not the only international airport to have had the misfortune to come up against the pandemic during an expansion phase. Berlin’s brand new Brandenburg Airport finally opened its doors last month after a decade of costly delays.
Last year, Singapore’s Changi Airport opened its 1.5 million square foot Jewel shopping and entertainment complex. The airport said last month that revenues from the center had helped soften the blow from Covid-19, but it has seen profits slump again, forcing the suspension of a planned fifth terminal.
Presenting its half-year results in August, Zurich Airport said it had reached binding agreements to lease 80% of the Circle’s designated floor space, a proportion that is expected to rise to 85% by the end of the year.