Geneva International Airport
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Jan S. Krogh's Geosite: The Geneva International Airport Boundary (CH-FR)  (Under construction)

Old pre-1960 border in red and new border in red. The adjustments were done between markers no. 39 and no. 90. The northeastern part of the runway was built on previous French territory.

To provide for jet traffic, in 1960 the Geneva-Cointrin Airport runway was extended to its current length of 3,900 m. This is unusually long for an airport of this size, and could only be built after some territory was exchanged between France and Switzerland. The north-eastern end of the 1946 runway had also been the frontier between Geneva and the neighbouring French commune of Ferney-Voltaire. The runway extension needed to use land that was then French, and an international agreement was needed whereby the necessary land was transferred from France to Switzerland, and territory of identical size, also adjacent to Ferney-Voltaire, transferred in the opposite direction. In this way, Switzerland remained exactly the same size, and its neutrality remained unsullied. The extension also entailed the construction of the current tunnel leading to Ferney-Voltaire and of the joint border post on its northern side, which is unusual for Switzerland in that it is entirely on French territory. In the process, the old hamlet of La Limite disappeared, although (April 2013) a building from that era still stands isolated within a motorway junction on the southern side of the runway. 1)

Pier F, also known as the French Sector, is used exclusively for passengers arriving from, or departing to French destinations. It has two gates with jet bridges and four bus gates. The French Sector exists as a stipulation of an agreement between France and the Canton of Geneva dating from the 1960s. This sector enables travel between the neighboring French region of the Pays de Gex and the airport, avoiding Swiss customs. The French Customs service is working in the French Sector. 1)

Now that Switzerland is part of the Schengen area, anyone wanting to pass through Geneva International Airport (Arrivals and Departures) is obliged to enter Swiss territory and must hold the necessary documents to enter Switzerland (except when flying to/from a French airport - when the flight counts as a domestic one and provided they enter/leave the Airport via the French sector). If a passenger arrives from or in France via the French sector, documents valid for entry into France are also required. 2)

The border was adjusted between present border markers no. 39 and 90 (see map below) according to Agreement between Switzerland and France on the development of the airport of Geneva-Cointrin and creating at adjacent Ferney-Voltaire national controls and Geneva-Cointrin of 25 April 1956 (into force on 6 March 1958). 3)


Map of the present 2013 border.  The entire Geneva International Airport is situated inside the border of Switzerland.

Right north of the Swiss border checkpoint on the French side there is an exit to the French sector at Geneva International Airport. This road, Route Dounière, allows visitors to go straight to Switzerland without passing the Swiss checkpoint.

The French sector road is completely separated from the Swiss road network.

Traffic sign at the Swiss border station on the French side.

Swiss border guards checked incoming traffic to Switzerland. Some consumer goods are much cheaper in France. Switzerland was a member of Schengen, but not a EU member.

Several travelers were during our short visit in April 2013 thoroughly controlled by the Swiss border guards.

Photographed from the border line towards Swiss side: To the left side of the fence is the main road to Switzerland and to the right side of the fence the road to the French sector.



Sources and external links

  1. English Wikipedia – Geneva International Airport (28 July 2013)

  2. Geneva Int'l Airport – French Sector Access (28 July 2013)

  3. Convention entre la Suisse et la France concernant l'aménagement de l'aéroport de Genève-Cointrin et la création de bureaux à contrôles nationaux juxtaposés à Ferney-Voltaire et à Genève-Cointrin (28 July 2013)

This page was first time published on 28 July 2013.  This page was last time updated 08/08/13 .