Genève - Cointrin

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Last Validated May 2011
City Geneva
Position 46°14'13"N 006°06'32"E
Runway(s) 05/23, 05L/23R (grass)
Elevation 1410 ft


The city of Geneva in Switzerland is known for its many international organisations, which have a (main) office here. Also, like in Zurich, many Swiss banks have offices in the city. From an aviation enthusiast's point of view this means a lot of exotic visitors. Government aircraft and bizjets can be seen in large numbers here. There are large maintenance facilities for bizjets at Geneva. The airliners are dominated by Swiss International Air Lines, but a surprising variety of other airliners have Geneva in their timetable. With easyJet Switzerland having a base here, it means that Geneva can be worth a day visit at a reasonable price. This is especially true during the large car show during the beginning of March and the EBACE (European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition) in May.


Geneva has a single main runway, but also a small grass strip for light aircraft. It is located north of the main runway. The terminal is on the south side of the runway, as are the hangars of TAG Aviation, Jet Aviation, PrivatAir and the cargo ramp. To the north is a general aviation apron as well, with maintenance facilities. Nearly all aircraft parked on the north side are visible from the south side, but some may be in or behind a hangar. As it is quite a journey to get there without a car, it is a relief that you will hardly miss anything from there.

Getting There

Most aviation enthusiasts will probably arrive by plane or by car, when travelling around. Geneva airport is directly on highway A1 from Geneva to Lausanne. It connects to highway A40 in France (leading to Lyon) southwest of Geneva.
Alternatively, you can reach the airport by bus 10 from the city centre; it terminates at the terminal building.

Around the Airport

1Terminal: viewing area and restaurant

As usual the first spot is the terminal itself. On the top floor, there is a small outdoor viewing area, featuring tables and seats as well as a shop to get refreshments. It can be reached by taking an elevator at the western end of the terminal. The majority of the airport can be seen from this location, although some aircraft will remain unidentified as they are parked nose on (especially aircraft parked on the northern general aviation apron and on the TAG/Jet Aviation/PrivatAir ramps). Photography is possible through clear glass, in particular of aircraft passing in front of the satellite terminals. The main taxi tracks are a bit too far away for nice pics. For opening times visit the official website (see link to the right).

Note: the viewing area has been closed for an indefinite period due to construction work!

Located one floor below the viewing area is an airport restaurant that also has limited views on the main apron, the runway and the other side. Photography is not possible. Note that this is a special restaurant, as it is partly inside an old French navy Atlantique that has been cut up.

2TAG Aviation

Many aircraft parked on the main general aviation aprons of TAG Aviation, Jet Aviation and PrivatAir cannot be seen from the viewing area. At this spot, between TAG Aviation and Jet Aviation, you can fill most gaps in your log book. It is also possible to look in some hangars, as they have windows. Photography is very limited. The spot can be reached on foot by exiting the terminal at the western end and following the cycling track to the west. After about 20 minutes walking there is a small, rather steep road to the right up a hill. When reaching the top take a turn to the right and you will see the bizjets parked in front. You can also take bus 28 (direction Hôpital-La Tour) in front of the terminal building and get off at the fifth stop (called Grand Hangar, just before a large viaduct).

3Southwest side approach

Continuing the cycling track from spot 2 takes you past the TAG hangars to the final approach of runway 05. At first, it may seem that the views on the airport are obstructed by bushes, but after a while some holes become visible. This is already nearly below the final approach so you will need to walk back somewhat to get good landing shots. From here, you can also read the aircraft on the general aviation ramps, as well as inside the Jet Aviation hangars (if they are open). There is no view on the general aviation activity on the northern side, so you could miss some departures when runway 05 is in use. Finally, aircraft taxiing out to runway 05 can be photographed when they are approaching the holding point. No stairs are needed, just find a hole in the fence, but of course a ladder could be helpful. Depending on the sun you can continue walking towards France to take pictures on landing aircraft from the other side.

4North general aviation facilities

Although quite a walk, you can get to the northside aprons. Continue the road from spot 4 (Avenue des Mategnin) and turn right at the Jaillat car sale office. At the end of this road there is a small restaurant with terrace, offering a view on one of the taxiways leading to this apron. You can walk further along the fence to look into every corner of this area. If walking is too far and you do not have a car, a large part can be travelled by bus. Take bus 28 to stop Jardin Alpin. This is close to the Nissan garage.

5Along taxiway to runway 23

When runway 23 is in use, the approach over the lake, you can get close to the taxiway leading to the holding of 23. It is most easily reached by bus (see below), but walking is possible as well. Walk out of the terminal in easterly direction, at departure level, in the direction of the railway station, and pass it on the left side (i.e. keep the building to your right). Next, pass the Geneva Arena building, also on the left side, and descend with the street, underneath the Palexpo building. After passing the cargo facilities, you will see the airport fence and just follow it. After a while, the road again climbs somewhat, and here is spot 6! The elevated position allows pictures to be taken over the fence without the help of a ladder. There is even a small bench here! To get to this point by bus take bus 28 in the direction of Jardin Botanique and get off the bus at stop Tunnel Routier (fourth stop after the terminal).

6Remote parking

While you are at point 5 do not forget to check whether anything is parked at the remote parking stands. To go there, continue east, cross the road that leads to the tunnel under the runway, and climb the hill on the other side of the road. When reaching the fence, you have reached spot 6. You can walk around the ramp and maybe take some shots if the aircraft are parked favourably. Note that the fence is quite high and photography is essentially only possible through the fence.

7Northeast approach - south side

An alternative spot to spot 6, especially if you want to take pictures of arrivals, is this location. To get here walk/drive around the remote parking apron and after a while you will see the approach lights.

8Northeast approach - north side

If the sun has turned too far for spot 6 or 8 (from 15.00-16.00 hours), you can spend the rest of the day on the other side of the approach end, which - by the way - is in France! Out of the tunnel after passing customs take the first road to the right. After a few hundred meters you will reach a small recreation area behind the Lidl supermarket. The ideal spot is on a hill in the recreation area, which means no ladder is required for photography. The entrance is a small footpath, going up left of the supermarket. Here you can park your car as well. Along the same road there are some hotels, which are usually less expensive than those in Geneva itself.
If you do not have a car you can use bus F to take you from one side of the tunnel to the other side (bus stop is between spot 6 and 7). Leave the bus at the first stop after customs.

This photo of a resident easyJet Switzerland Airbus A319 shows how touchdown shots can be made at Spot 6. (24 March 2006, David Alders)

Landing shot can also be made when runway 05 is in use, but then on short final at Spot 3. (19 March 2005, David Alders)


118.700 / 119.700Ground / Tower
136.450Approach (transition)
121.300 / 131.325Approach
120.300Approach (final)
121.750 / 121.850Apron
135.575 (124.750)ATIS

Based Operators

Albinati AeronauticsCe525
Falcon 900EX
Falcon 2000
Global 5000
Baboo AirwaysDHC-8 (opf Darwin Airline)
DasnAirFalcon 50
Falcon 900
Falcon 2000
Falcon 7X
easyJet SwitzerlandA319, A320
Sabre 65
Swift CoptersEC120, AS350, SA365
Swiss Int'l Air LinesBAe146
TAG AviationCe560XL, Ce750
G200, Falcon 7X
Falcon 900
Falcon 2000
Global Express/5000


J-4085Hunter F58, on pole west of north general aviation facility
J-2314Mirage 3S, on pole west of north general aviation facility
27Former French navy Atlantique, cut into pieces in terminal building (restaurant below viewing area).
F-GCJLFormer Air Mediterranée Boeing 737, now used by fire service. Replaced DC-7 in October 2006.

More Info

Geneva International AirportOfficial website
DPTSGeneva aviation enthusiast website with news, timetable, etc.
Transports Publics GenevoisPublic transport info for the Geneva area

Order of Battle Switzerland

Switzerland - Schweizer Luftwaffe

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