In what seems to be a welcoming and heartwarming news for the entire Travel Retail Industry globally, Zurich Airport (ZRH) reported a 198.2% growth in passenger numbers during Dec. ‘21 compared to Dec. 20 to cross 1 million – 1,059,386 to be precise. This was 54% compared to passenger numbers in Dec. ‘19. Retail and Dining revenues doubled to USD 37 mn during Dec. ‘21 compared to the same month in 2020. Overall, the turnover of the Travel Retail business grew 24% to USD 323 mn over last year (2020). The growth in turnover has been directly attributed to the growth in passenger numbers which crossed 10 mn during the year, which is 22.7% higher than 2020 and a third of the number of passengers who passed through its premises in 2019.
Swiss, the national air carrier had a share of 51% of the total flight movements in the year which was 132,600 for 2021, a 19% increase over 2020. The significant drop in the number of flight movements, passengers and the travel retail revenues was due to a slow start during the first half of the year, mostly due to the second wave of the pandemic globally which halted the travel plans for several people worldwide as well as huge cancellations due to international and bilateral protocols between countries.
Though Geneva is the political capital of Switzerland, Zurich (incl. the airport) is the hub of most tourist activity in the country. Millions of travellers descend to the country to spend the summers in the Alps and the picturesque countryside which are easily connected by rail and road from downtown Zurich. The Zurich Airport, privately owned and run by Flughafen Zurich AG, has taken advantage of this position for the past 2 decades and has paved the way for a classy, global airport setting in Europe where most other terminals are just functional and to the point. For Ex. The Centre Bar at the Zurich Airport (featured below) is one of the most coveted places to sip a drink before departing, for the area offers a clear view of the mountains in the background as well as the runways, taxiways and the aircraft ground movements. Iconic retail points such as the Turler Watch Boutique and the Swiss Chocolate Bar cum Museum are a must visit in every traveller’s schedule while passing through the airport.
ZRH’s surge in Travel Retail revenues paves a way for many airports worldwide signalling a revival in the booming Travel & Tourism Industry. When people travel, it’s not just the hotel stay and transportation that they spend on, but also several dollars at the airports during their dwell time on shopping and dining. International branded Liquor remains the most sold item (by value) across airports worldwide while chocolates lead by volumes.
Back in India, Travel Retail companies are struggling for survival with most International flights remaining out of service through most of FY 21-22 across the top 50 International airports in India. The country has over operational 125 airports and in 2019, had a total passenger traffic of over 120 million which halved during the previous financial year. For the record, the Travel Retail turnover of ZRH doesn’t match the total Travel Retail turnover of all the Airports in India put together even before the pandemic began – such is the vast opportunity in the country.