Serving the Swiss capital, Bern Airport offers a surprising range of benefits for private jet users, not least its close proximity to multiple business centres and some of Switzerland’s primary ski slopes. Passengers and operators also appreciate the facility’s slot availability, as CEO Mathias Gantenbein explains.
“Bern Airport does not have slot restrictions, which means passengers can travel at their preferred time within our long weekday opening hours of 07:00 to 22:00 – or slightly revised weekend times. And the airport’s location in the heart of Switzerland enables smooth, stress-free transfers to business locations including Fribourg, Neuchâtel, Lausanne and Montreux, and world-famous visitor destinations, among them Interlaken, Grindelwald and Gstaad. As a smaller regional airport, Bern also promises a friendly atmosphere and short transit times; no more than five minutes from the car, through security, to the aircraft.”
With its 1,730m runway and EASA category 4+ firefighting services, Bern is suitable for a variety of fixed- and rotary-wing operations. Based companies include Mountainflyers and Swiss Helicopter, both offering VIP helicopter transport as a useful alternative to onward travel by car. Scheduled airline flights to 25 destinations across Europe, via Helvetic Airways and SkyWork Airlines, are also available.
Gantenbein says the airport is set up to facilitate helicopter movements. “Transfer from business jet to connecting helicopter flight is easily accomplished depending on passenger origin – Schengen or non-Schengen. Our handling agents are available to help customers through customs and then drive them to their helicopter as required. The process takes no longer than 10 minutes, making it very attractive for passengers looking for fast, discrete transits.”
The airport is also no stranger to VVIP and head-of-state visitors. “Serving the nation’s capital city, Bern Airport receives regular diplomatic flights. It’s just 15 minutes from the city centre and offers short transit distances, which mean discretion for passengers. In addition, head-of-state and governmental convoys may be escorted by the police directly from the tarmac.”
MRO and Expansion
Bern also offers MRO provision, from Airmatec, which specialises in piston-engined general aviation types and smaller executive turboprops, and RUAG, with access to its full range of business aviation services.
Recognising the importance of its growing business aviation customer base, the airport is investing in a new business jet hangar project open to third parties and additional ramp space; Gantenbein regards both as being ‘of key importance’ for the airfield’s future. “We want to position ourselves as Switzerland’s preferred business jet airport for leisure travellers – Bernese Oberland, Valais, Central Switzerland and the Three Lakes Region can all be reached by car in 60 to 75 minutes. We also want to be considered a regular, sensible alternative to Geneva and Zurich, the major Swiss airports, and their slot restrictions.
“Our major challenge today is telling people about our excellent offering and unique location in Switzerland, because it’s still not well known abroad.”