Location and history
The origins of civil aviation in Bern can be traced back to the period from 1910 to 1928, at which time the “Allmend” (an extensive area of grassland outside the city) functioned as Bern’s local airfield. Entrepreneurs and politicians quickly recognised the development potential of this relatively new form of transport, but before long it was also clear that it would not be possible to expand the nearby “Beundenfeld” airfield to meet the rapid increase in demand for air travel. The Bernese authorities did not want to be left behind, however, and before long they acquired “Belpmoos”, a large tract of meadowland near Belp, for the purpose of building an airport and operating an airline. Alpar AG was founded in 1929 in order to exploit the beneficial economic effects of civil aviation, and this fundamental strategy has remained unchanged up to the present.
In contrast, the overall environment in which the airport operates has changed radically during this time. Civil aviation is now an essential form of transport. Air travel has evolved from an adventure for the courageous few into an efficient form of mobility for everyone. Bern-Belp Airport has undergone major development over the past few decades, and now provides modern infrastructure for civil aviation operations (scheduled and charter flights). At the same time, general aviation has constantly gained in importance at Bern-Belp, both at the commercial and the private level. All segments of general aviation are of considerable importance for the continued development of civil aviation as a whole. And of course Bern-Belp airport is of central importance for the federal government, since it services the nation’s political capital.
Infrastructure and capacity
Bern-Belp Airport has a single hard-top runway (14/32), and the terminal can handle 300 passengers per hour (arrivals and departures). It also has 5 check-in desks, 2 ticketing desks, a valet parking service, a car hire desk, a kiosk, a café/bar landside and another airside, a duty-free shop and 3 gates. Bus services run between the airport and Bern main railway station, and to and from Belp. The airport also has a 10-vehicle taxi rank and 8 parking spaces for buses, and is equipped with 15 aircraft stands. It can handle 20 IFR flight movements. At present, regional air freight services at Bern-Belp Airport are only of secondary importance for Lufthansa and Air France, and the same applies to charter flights (incoming and outgoing) as well as seasonal services. But this could change if larger aircraft are brought into circulation.
Bern-Belp Airport is operated by the privately-owned company Alpar AG (i.e. without subsidies and public funding) as a licensed civil aviation facility.
The strategic focus is based on four pillars:
- Acquisition and expansion in the area of scheduled and charter operations (public air transport)
- Acquisition and expansion in the area of general aviation (private air transport)
- Aviation services in the interests of the federal government
- Aviation-related services and management of real estate
As a driver of the economic development of the region and its tourism industry, Bern-Belp Airport plays an important role in providing connections to the international civil aviation network. The Canton of Bern has specified its civil aviation requirements in a set of binding guidelines.
Alpar AG attaches a great deal of importance to environmental protection, and aims to develop its business activities without placing an additional burden on the environment. For example, for a number of years now the airport has succeeded in keeping noise levels well below immission threshold ES II in all neighbouring municipalities.
Bern-Belp Airport services the nation’s political capital, and is therefore a convenient location for air travel for government officials. It also functions as a location for the reception of state visitors.
Thanks to its central location, efficient infrastructure and attractive operating conditions, Bern-Belp offers a variety of benefits in the area of general aviation, especially for business jets. As Switzerland’s largest regional airport, Bern-Belp is active in a variety of civil aviation organisations, and was a founding member of the SIAA.
Projects / outlook
The structural development of Bern-Belp Airport has been summarised in a master plan for the period from 2008 to 2015, which was approved by the management and Board of Directors of Alpar AG in September 2008. According to this master plan, the airport infrastructure is to be expanded and the existing operations are to be more clearly separated. An expansion of the infrastructure will also be required in view of the increasingly stringent regulations of the civil aviation authorities governing safety and security.
In this respect, as of 1 July 2009 Bern-Belp Airport will have to take measures to comply with overlying EU security regulations. As of that date, all vehicles, personnel and goods will have to pass through security checks in order to access the security zone (i.e. the zone known as the “critical part”). This requirement means that changes will have to be implemented in terms of both infrastructure and personnel, and the airport operator will also have to carry out additional investments in security facilities. In addition to taking the necessary structural measures, Bern-Belp Airport also intends to take the initial steps towards fulfilling the new requirements at the process level.
(not for operational & aeronautical use / no official publication)