Optimizing terminal assets to create a world-class intermodal hub at Geneva Airport

A global city needed an airport to match. To help bring the airport into the 21st Century the Geneva Airport approached NACO.
Optimizing terminal assets to create a world class intermodal hub at Geneva-Airport

Project result

A Terminal Ambition Plan to accommodate Geneva Airport’s development until 2040
Integrated multi-modal hub enabling seamless connectivity and excellent passenger experience
Overcoming physical and operational constraints by optimizing assets to create a more spacious terminal and improved commercial areas
Expanded security- and check-in and bag drop- areas for enhanced processes and facilities

As the home of the United Nations, World Health Organisation (WHO), World Trade Organisation (WTO) as well as unique research facilities like CERN – the city of Geneva in Switzerland has risen as a global centre for diplomacy, science, and business. Genève Aéroport (GVA) – was created in 1919 as part of the city’s ambition to attain the international status it has today. The current terminal building, dating back to 1968, has been extended and developed - creating an evolutionary collage of structures that lack the flexibility and adaptability for future development.

An airport in need of renewal

Faced with a rising number of passengers per hour, the airport needed renewal to increase its capacity.
Geneva Airport decided to embark on a new programme to make its terminal facilities future-proof and aligned with the changes the aviation industry is facing. To do this the airport appointed NACO to create a Terminal Ambition Plan that would facilitate its transition to a large-scale airport.

Any development of the airport would face some tough physical constraints – with airside operations to the north, a highway to the south, and office and baggage handling to the east all preventing simple expansion.

Alongside this, significant operational limitations in the current terminal were emerging. From insufficient space in security control areas to outdated check-in configurations – the airport was needed to accommodate new technologies and security requirements.

Overcoming constraints with smart solutions

As the first step in overcoming these constraints, we assessed the ultimate facility sizing for the year 2040 – before then scaling back to create a roadmap of feasible development milestones that would allow for a phased programme of development.
We incorporated an assessment of the future need for commercial areas and facilities that went beyond functionality and processing capacity. To enhance the customer experience and passenger journey and bring maximum value we incorporated solutions such as:

  • Check-in – We planned for an increased depth of the check-in hall, allowing for better circulation of a two-step check-in and creating space for a special area to accommodate passengers with odd-sized luggage (like ski equipment) – resulting in an enhanced customer experience.
    Security – In the same way, we reserved sufficient depth in our designs to accommodate future security screening requirements. Alongside circulation areas that ensured not only compliance with the latest security requirements but a more enjoyable experience for passengers.
  • By accurately assessing the facility sizing as a foundation, we were able to centre the passenger experience alongside the desires and requirements of Geneva Airport.
Optimizing terminal assets to create a world class intermodal hub at Geneva-Airport

Enabling excellent customer experience throughout the passenger journey

A further challenge, central to the airport’s ambitions was the improvement of intermodal travel options and promoting the airport’s capabilities as an intermodal hub.

In Geneva, many of the major organisations (WHO, WTO, CERN, etc.) are located within 15-minute journeys from the airport, in addition to numerous ski-resorts. With a strong location, GVA needed intermodal facilities to match – helping to promote public transport and sustainable travel to and from the airport.

To answer this need we designed a new intermodal hub that consolidated taxis, buses, and parking spaces for arriving and departing passengers. The single location, on top of the airport’s railway station, is planned as part of a Terminal expansion in front of the existing terminal. Together they’ll provide seamless integration of air, rail, and public transport, with optimum customer experience.

Finding opportunities

Elsewhere we explored ‘quick wins’ that could improve the current capacity of different areas in the existing terminal. This included:

  • Removing cross flows and expanding the check-in area
  • Expanding and relocating security
  • Creating intuitive wayfinding – allowing passengers to experience their journey through the terminal seamlessly

With such a comprehensive overhaul of the airport’s terminals and operations, collaboration was crucial. At key stages in the process, we utilised GVA’s well-established framework to liaise with stakeholders – considering their myriad concerns and operational challenges as part of our planning process.

Optimizing terminal assets to create a world class intermodal hub at Geneva-Airport

NACO brought a fresh approach to us at Geneva Airport. With their in-depth knowledge and design expertise, we have a plan for future development that can achieve our goals.

Geneva Airport

"From developing our position as an intermodal hub, promoting public transport, to the optimisation of our existing footprint and assets – NACO helped us think in opportunities, not constraints. Now we can build the best airport possible for our passengers and partners."

Realising Geneva Airport’s ambitions

As a result of our analysis, different configurations of the Terminal Ambition Plan were created in close collaboration with GVA to present various options for expansion.

Ensuring that terminal operations can continue during refurbishment or expansion is a core area of expertise at NACO - having perfected the process over 50 years of modular expansion for the likes of Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands. So, for each Terminal Ambition Plan configuration, we analysed the potential phasing challenges and strategy – and the feasibility of implementing it whilst minimizing the impact on ongoing terminal operations.

While COVID-19 has forced a reduction in investment in the coming years, the terminal replacement programme commenced in 2021 – to ensure the availability of increased capacity by 2032.

Today, Geneva Airport can look ahead to realising the core elements of its Terminal Ambition Plan – from a more spacious terminal to largely improved commercial areas and new and enhanced security, bag-drop, and check-in facilities.

Talking about the project Joeri Aulman, Airport Planner & Project Manager, has said:
"Geneva Airport is a vital transport hub to one of the world’s most international cities and we were proud to bring our 70 years of experience to this project."

Together with Geneva Airport, we’ve helped realise a Terminal Ambition Plan that lays the groundwork for greater multi-modal connectivity and optimised spaces that provide an enhanced customer experience.

Joeri AulmanAirport Planner & Project Manager
Joeri Aulman - Airport planner & Project manager


Airport planner & Project manager