Goods transport by air, water and pipeline


Aviation

In 2021, a total of 343 413 tonnes of freight and post were handled at Swiss airports by scheduled and charter operators. This total volume has increased by 25% compared to 2020 but remains 26% below the level recorded in 2019, the pre-covid year. In 2021, freight tonnage remained clearly dominant with a share of 97%. 69% of air freight and 87% of postal transport were handled by Zurich airport.

Between 2000 and 2002, freight traffic had already fallen sharply as a result of Swissair’s bankruptcy. But it had picked up again until the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Air freight and post by scheduled and charter operators, 2021
  Freight Post
Handling at Swiss airports1, in tonnes 331 976 11 437
Percentage change from 2020 +27 –16
Percentage change from 2000 –34 –65
Percentage share of individual airports2
Zurich 69 87
Geneva 9 12
Basel-Mulhouse3 22 1.0
Total 100 100
1) incoming and outgoing traffic
2) regional airports insignificant
3) Swiss and French traffic
Source: FSO, FOCA – Aviation, scheduled and charter flights (AVIA_LC)

Shipping

In Switzerland, freight transported by water is mostly limited to Rhine shipping. Its importance for Swiss foreign trade should not be underestimated, despite the fact that it has declined considerably in recent decades. In 2020, the Swiss Rhine Ports handled 5.1 million tonnes of goods, i.e. roughly 8% of all Swiss imports and exports. In 2020, the principle goods handled in Rhine shipping were crude oil and petroleum products, followed by stones, soils and construction materials.

Freight shipping on the River Rhine, 2020
  Imports Exports
Total handling at Swiss Rhine ports, in tonnes 4 280 198 846 578
Percentage change from 2000 –44 –5
Percentage share of individual commodity groups
Crude oil and petroleum products 53 3
Stones, soils and construction materials 17 31
Food, feed and agricultural produce 13 14
Chemical products and fertiliser 6 8
Metals, ores and metal waste 5 18
Vehicles and machinery 2 13
Other 3 14
Total 100 100
Source: Swiss ports – Freight transport on the Rhine

Oil pipelines

For the import of crude oil and petroleum products, pipelines are also important. In 2020, 37% (3.4 million tonnes) of the above goods were imported via pipeline into Switzerland. 83% of this was crude oil, which was pumped through the Jura Neuchâtel pipeline to the refinery in Cressier (Canton of Neuchâtel).

Oil imports via pipeline, 2020
Total imports, in tonnes 3 358 893
Percentage change from 2010 351
Percentage share of Jura Neuchâtel pipeline2 83
Percentage share of Sappro pipeline3 (Geneva) 17
1) Decline due to closure of Collombey refinery (Canton of Valais) 2015
2) Crude oil
3) Petroleum products: Petrol, kerosene, heating and diesel oil
Source: Avenergy Suisse – Annual report

Further information

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Statistical sources and concepts

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Federal Statistical Office Section Mobility
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CH-2010 Neuchâtel
Switzerland
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