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St. Gallen-Altenrhein

Location and history

The St. Gallen-Altenrhein airfield was established in 1926, when Professor Claude Dornier decided to build his “flying boat” DO-X in Altenrhein. The company was named Dornier Flugzeugwerke.

The first 600m-long grass runway was built in 1927. From this time until the outbreak of World War II, regular scheduled flights operated to Basel, Dübendorf, Innsbruck and Munich. Amid the euphoria surrounding the rapidly-growing aviation sector, Altenrhein was considered a key European airfield for land- and seaplanes. In connection with the development order issued by the federal government for a fighter plane, the FFA (Flug- und Fahrzeugwerke Altenrhein) built a hard-surface runway measuring 1,200 m by 30 m in 1954. In 1979 this was extended to its current length of 1,500 m. This was necessary as the FFA had received a mandate from the federal government lasting until 1993 to overhaul Hunter fighter planes.

It was becoming apparent that the construction and overhaul of military aircraft in Altenrhein would become less and less important over time. However, the maintenance of civil aircraft was being specifically promoted.

A daily scheduled flight to Vienna

In the late 1980s Rheintalflug Seewald GmbH submitted a proposal to set up a daily scheduled flight from Altenrhein to Vienna. The federal government granted the company an operating licence to run scheduled flights to Vienna in 1988.

Extensive upgrading of infrastructure

The expansion of aircraft maintenance activities as well as the operation of scheduled flights meant an extensive upgrade of the airfield infrastructure was needed. Between 1988 and 1990 new hangars were built, an instrument landing system was installed and an airfield tower was erected. Significant investment was also made in security equipment, such as fire engines, weather stations, skidometers, x-ray equipment for baggage and a magnetic gate for conducting passenger security checks.

The instrument landing system was put into operation in spring 1991 on the day of the first scheduled flight to Vienna operated by Rheintalflug Seewald GmbH.

The lead-in lights, which facilitate landing when visibility is poor, were installed in 2005.


1926    Establishment of the company Dornier Flugzeugwerke 
1948Dr Claudio Caroni acquires Dornier Flugzeugwerke and renames it FFA Flug- und Fahrzeugwerke AG
1967A new subsidiary is founded:Repair Ltd.
1984Following the death of Dr Claudio Caroni, his son Luciano takes over management of the company
1987Luciano Caroni sells the entire company to Schindler Ltd. Schindler renames the vehicle factorySchindler Waggon Altenrhein The flight operation division is re-sold to Justus Dornier Holding Ltd in Zurich
1994Justus Dornier sells FFA Flugzeugwerke Altenrhein and Altenrhein Airport to the construction firm, Gautschi AG
2000The Strikwerda family from Lausanne takes a majority stake in Airport Altenrhein AG and sets up FFA Aircraft Maintenance AG and Firma Altenrhein Realco AG for real estate management
2003Strikwerda buys the remaining shares and therefore becomes sole owner of Airport Altenrhein AG FFA Aircraft Maintenance is sold to Pilatuswerke. The subsidiary Altenrhein Aviation Ltd is founded
2008Dieter Bührle acquires St. Gallen – Altenrhein Airport
2009 Markus Kopf buys 50% of the shares from Dieter Bührle. 
2010 Markus Kopf buys the remaining 50% and is sole owner of the Airport Altenrhein. 
2010 Foundation of the airline People’s Viennaline from Altenrhein to Vienna, 3 times a day. Owner is Markus Kopf. 

Take Off of People’s Viennaline on the 28th of March 2011. 

The history of scheduled flights

1935-1939    Scheduled flights run to Innsbruck, Munich, Dübendorf and Basel with AC8
1988Rheintalflug obtains operating licence for scheduled flights to Vienna
from 1991Scheduled flights run to Vienna with Turboprop Dash 8-100 (carrying 37 passengers)
1994New Dash 8-300 (carrying 50 passengers) is deployed for scheduled flights to Vienna
1999Modern Embraer 145 jet (carrying 50 passengers) is deployed for scheduled flights to Vienna
2003Modern Turboprop Dash 8-400 (carrying 72 passengers) is deployed for scheduled flights to Vienna
2006Fokker 70 (carrying 80 passengers) is deployed for morning rotation

Infrastructure and capacity

St. Gallen-Altenrhein Airport has a hard-surface runway (10/28) which is 1,500 metres long and 30 metres wide, an instrument landing system from the west and a sight landing system from the east. Thanks to the ILS10 instrument landing system, flights can operate in all weather conditions. The length and load capacity of the runway allows the operation of regional aircraft up to the size of an Embraer 145 to 190, a Dash 8-400 and all business jets.

Four scheduled flights run from St. Gallen-Altenrhein Airport to Vienna every day. Austrian Airlines operates convenient transfer flights via Vienna to over 130 destinations worldwide. Between May and October a weekly charter flight operates to the Mediterranean destination of Sardinia.

The airport has two check-in desks, one travel agency, two valet parking services, four car rental companies (Avis, Europcar, Hertz, Sixt), one restaurant, six taxi ranks and one bus stop.

The Rorschach and Rheineck stations featuring a high-speed train service are only a few minutes away from the airport and offer good connections to other towns and cities in Switzerland, Austria and Germany. The bus stop for the RTB Rheintal public bus service is located in the immediate vicinity of the airportand offers regular connections to Rorschach and Rheineck.

The bus service operated by Austrian Airlines (AUA) also offers convenient connections to and from Vorarlberg – Lustenau, Dornbirn and Bregenz. The bus timetable is coordinated with the arrival and departure times of AUA scheduled flights. The bus journey is free in conjunction with a valid flight ticket.

Strategic focus

Our strategy is based on 4 pillars:

  • Business aviation
  • Scheduled flights
  • Charter
  • Real estate

We aim to be the gateway of choice for companies located in eastern Switzerland, Vorarlberg and Liechtenstein.

Our aim is to be market leader in terms of customer satisfaction.

Projects / outlook

We are developing the airfield infrastructure based on customer needs. We aim to offer airlines, pilots and passengers a secure, efficient and customer friendly service. A further upgrade to the airfield infrastructure (new terminal) is in the pipeline, as are additional hangars.

Between 2001 and 2009, investments were made in the following areas:

  • Customer-friendly arrivals hall
  • New fire brigade building
  • Modern baggage handling system
  • Convenient car park credit card system
  • Business lounge
  • Check-in desks
  • New hangars
  • Widening of taxiway
  • Fire engine
  • Expansion of the business lounge
  • X-ray equipment for passenger/staff security checks
  • X-ray equipment for baggage checks
  • Renovation of the Cockpit Restaurant
  • Construction of a tower

Airport layout
(not for operational & aeronautical use / no official publication)


Airport Altenrhein AG
Flughafenstrasse 11
CH-9423 Altenrhein