Geneva (LSGG)

Welcome to Geneva airport. Local pilot, Vincent (author of the PlasticPilot blog) gives us the low-down. The main concrete runway is just huge, 4’000 meters long, but also very busy. All single engine VFR have use the grass strip which runs parallely on the north-west side. The grass strip is short (520 meters LDA) and there are trees on the 05 climb-out trajectory.

If you need main runway for performance reasons, expect delays. A good thing is to check the ATIS before departure (+41 22 417 40 81). If the grass runway is closed, expect delays. Grass runway can also be “restricted” which means that the grass taxiway can’t be used, and planes shall enter and leave grass runway at its end.

There are four VRPs (N, S, E and W) which are easy to spot. Flying VFR you’ll have to be below airspace Charlie of TMA, flying at 3’500ft. ATC speaks good english, but don’t expect too much help regarding orientation. Coming from South or East, the controllers will clear you to cross the main runway at 3’000ft to join the grass runway’s pattern. Doing so give you a breathtaking overfly of the city and the famous “Jet d’eau”.

During winter season (Christmas to Easter) the airport is really busy, and all private operations are PPR, via a web-based slot allocation system ( All details are published via NOTAMs.

All IFR operation take place on the concrete runway. To avoid slots, it is better to file IFR flight plans at least 3 hours in advance, preferably the day before. On arrival high performance singles are preferred, and you can expect the controller to ask you “What will be your speed on final ?” Answering “160kts to 2 miles” is always welcome. “145 to 4 miles” goes, and “90kts” will certainly make the controller vector you parallel to the ILS.

The IFR departures routes require a climb gradient of 7% to 7’000ft, because of surrounding high ground. Departure routes towards north require a climb to 7’000 ft before turn. Departure towards south is not possible without turbo / pressurised aircraft as the minimal FL over the alps is FL160.

The general aviation terminal in on the north side. There is a fuel pump for AVGAS and trucks for Jet-A1. Remember that Switzerland is not yet in the European Union, so you will need customs clearance. Both Swiss and French customs are present, making flights to any french airport possible, no need for a french airport of entry.

Bus, taxi and train (best way to go to city center) are available… on the south side. To go there, ask for a shuttle on the north side. A taxi ride to the city is roughly 50 CHF, and a public transport ticket for one hour will cost you 3 CHF…

All possible tourist information can be found in the main terminal waiting hall.

Night VFR is PPR, and the airport closes to private traffic at 2200 LT. No exceptions.

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7 Responses to Geneva (LSGG)

  1. Rapha May 5, 2009 at 19:42 #

    Good review, very helpfull.

    Just would like to add some stuff, since a couple of months, due to a very annoing problem with the trees growing at the threshold of rwy 23 grass, they had to close the grass runway, on both configurations. That means getting a slot for LSGG and bearing in mind holding enough time that ATC can take you in a gap!!! Just crazy, that's purely a political thing and it gives a lot of trouble to everyone. On top of this, due to schengen regulations, you need for all GA (VFR and IFR) a handling company, that will cost a huge ammount, like more than 100 CHF. If you prefer, there is an alternate not too far away and still in switzerland, go to La C

    • Matthew Stibbe May 6, 2009 at 08:56 #

      That sounds like a pain. Also, I wanted to fly into Geneva once and I couldn't get a slot because the EBACE show was on. The airport seems pretty slot-constrained.

  2. Vincent May 6, 2009 at 09:01 #

    Thank you Raph. As you might know, I'm no longer living in Geneva but I followed the situation closely via the aero-club. The Schengen procedures seems to be a pain, even for locally based aircrafts and for the aero-club as well, even if they don't have to use a handling company.

    La C

  3. Craig April 3, 2010 at 13:44 #


    I was thinking on flying from the UK to Switzerland for a week trip. Maybe in either a Piper or Cessna aircraft. It would be my first time doing a long trip of around 410 Nautical miles.

    I was wondering if anyone could give me information as to what airfields i could stop over in France on the way there and back and the best place to land into Switzerland.

    If anyone had done the trip before maybe they could give me a rough estimate of how much it'll cost.

    Thanks for your help

  4. Vincent April 6, 2010 at 16:11 #

    Hi Craig,

    you should start by having a look at this previous post of mines:

    You can find the original version on my blog, with links to several airport guides:


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