SWITZERLAND. Autogrill has unveiled its new Air restaurant concept at Zürich Airport.

Working in close partnership with Zürich Airport and design and architecture firm Detail Design, the concept aims to capture the excitement of flying and travel. Its design pays homage to aircraft and airports, with decorations and signage referencing aircraft fuselages, engines, and runways.

Prime location: Air is situated landside at Zürich Airport near check-in and security

Air is located landside at the airport just before security and has a total floor area of 1,637.1sq m. An official opening event was held earlier this week and attended by The Moodie Davitt Report, ahead of the public opening today (31 January).

The concept features a number of food counters and combines restaurants, a bakery, a bar and an open air terrace. The partners wanted to create an international concept with a “local touch”, which is reflected in popular Swiss quick service restaurant chain Holy Cow.

From left to right, Autogrill Schweiz Chief Operating Officer Switzerland Maximilian Schiedt, Zürich Airport Chief Commercial Officer Stefan Gross and Detail Design Managing Director Roger Copeland pushed a big red button to officially open Air

A pop-up counter further adds to the variety on offer. It will change six times per year and feature different tenants, the partners said.

There are over 500 seats inside, while the outdoor terrace offers a further 300 seats as well as views of the airfield.

In addition to catering to travellers, Air also serves as the airport’s new staff canteen. Its pre-security location means that it will also attract some of the 450,000 tourists and locals that visit the airport’s renowned observation deck every year.

Forward momentum: Design features reference different aircraft parts to create a compelling story

This need to serve different customer types presented one of the biggest challenges of the project, according to Autogrill Schweiz Chief Operating Officer Switzerland Maximilian Schiedt. “It has to serve as the airport canteen so we need variety, to offer something different, and to be speedy,” he told The Moodie Davitt Report*.

“We also wanted to create a restaurant that represents people’s fascination of flying. Flying is still a big thing; many guests may come to an airport just once or twice a year. So we wanted to make this excitement real, and Air makes them feel a part of it. Flying has become a commodity but Air celebrates it again.

“Finally, there is the third group of enthusiasts using the observation deck to consider.”

In line with its company strategy, Autogrill has put a strong focus on both digitalisation and featuring healthy, locally-sourced products and ingredients.

Menus are presented on digital screens, allowing offers and promotions to be clearly presented. An app is also available which showcases the different menus on offer. It currently serves as a ‘pre-information’ service rather than a ‘pre-order’ service, but Autogrill is looking into adding that functionality in the future.

Zürich also noted that it had become the first airport in Europe to install self-service check-outs for staff.

Aircraft engines inspired some of the lighting fixtures, while yellow lines (below) offer direction as they would on the airfield

Zürich Airport Chief Commercial Officer Stefan Gross commented: “Air is a themed restaurant like we have never seen before. There is a strong focus on the Sense of Place of actually being at the airport, and there is a key focus on choice and speed.”

Gross and Schiedt noted that the concept was created exclusively for Zürich, and Autogrill won’t roll it out to other airports.

“We are a mid-sized airport in Europe, so how do we differentiate ourselves?” asked Gross. “The answer is by offering quality as well as heart and soul. Air tells a story to the guest, and this is what we want.”

The official opening event was attended by executives and staff from Autogrill, Zurich Airport and Detail Design, including the team members who are working at Air

One of the key ways in which that story is told is through Air’s design. Roger Copeland, Managing Director of Detail Design [which is located in Zürich], told The Moodie Davitt Report he wanted to capture the unique atmosphere of airports and the fascination people have with flying.

“You just have to open your eyes walking through an airport – it is like walking through a field of flowers. Air is a replication of the airport and the apron, and we have picked the best flowers.

“For example, there are yellow lines which direct you inside the restaurant. There are red lights on the ceiling at the entrance, which tell you that you are landing at Air. Engines provide nice lighting fixtures while the buffet area is made up of the body of an aircraft.

“The project was about putting all of these inspirational ideas together to create a great product and to tell a story. Air gives travellers a sense that they are where they want to be, and I hope the concept will surprise people.”

Detail Design was also responsible for the design of Helsinki Airport’s Pier Zero restaurant, which won The FAB ‘Wow’ Factor 2017 award at the 2017 FAB Awards.

See below for more images of Air and from the opening event.

*Look out for an extended feature on Air in the 8 February issue of The Foodie Report [which is published alongside The Moodie Davitt e-Zine]. It will feature interviews with Autogrill, Zürich Airport and Detail Design.

Autogrill Schweiz’s Maximilian Schiedt: “Flying has become a commodity but Air celebrates it again”

Zürich Airport’s Stefan Gross: “Air is a themed restaurant like we have never seen before”

Detail Design’s Roger Copeland: “The project was about putting inspirational ideas together to create a great product and to tell a story”

NOTE: The Moodie Davitt Report also publishes The Foodie Report, the world’s only media focused on airport (and other travel-related) food & beverage. The Foodie Report e-Newsletter is published every two weeks and The Foodie Report e-Zine every month.

Please send all news of food & beverage outlet openings, together with images, menus, video etc to Martin@MoodieDavittReport.com to ensure unrivalled global exposure.

The company also organises the annual Airport Food & Beverage (FAB) Conference & Awards. This year’s FAB will be held in Helsinki on 21-22 June. Click here for details.