Zermatt Bergbahnen AG is investing in the future


The lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic is causing a great deal of uncertainty and reduced sales for almost every industry in Switzerland. Instead of falling into a state of shock, the Zermatt Bergbahnen AG (ZBAG) concentrates on the time “when this is all over”. Despite the difficult starting position, the Board of Directors has decided to make the major investments of around 60 million Swiss francs over the next two years as planned. The additional financing provided by the banks also contributes to this decision. As soon as the weather conditions allow and no further official decisions relating to the coronavirus prevent construction work from taking place, ZBAG will commence the task of building the new Kumme gondola lift and continue work on the Matterhorn glacier ride II 3S cableway project.

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The premature closure of the ski areas, restaurants and shops and the restrictions on international travel due to the official regulations to contain the coronavirus have hit the tourist industry hard. However, ZBAG is aware that every crisis has an end and is investing in the future accordingly. Despite the difficult situation, it is sticking to the Kumme gondola lift and Matterhorn glacier ride II construction projects with an investment volume of around 60 million Swiss francs over the next two years. CEO Markus Hasler had this to say about the decision: “With our investments and the resumption of construction work we mean to underscore our leading role in and around the Zermatt-Matterhorn resort and demonstrate that we can meet even this challenge head on together. We want to indicate to our service partners and visitors and to the local economy that we believe in the future and despite the difficult conditions remain willing to invest in modern facilities and services.” In other words, ZBAG is looking ahead with optimism to the time after the crisis and the preparations for a possible resumption of summer operations are already in full swing.

Optimistic mood among lenders too

The effects of the Corona crisis will also lead to a drop in sales at ZBAG in the coming months and will affect profitability, which is one of the very best in the industry. For this reason, ZBAG's current and future investment plans have been re-analysed with the banks. It quickly became clear that the banks are convinced of ZBAG's strategy and successful future and are therefore sticking to the planned investment amounts and projects. They are also making additional funds available for the two major projects.

The first fully automatic gondola lift in Switzerland

Together with the resumption of construction work on the Matterhorn glacier ride II between Testa Grigia and the Klein Matterhorn, plans for the summer also include starting work on the new Kumme gondola lift. Along with cable car manufacturers Doppelmayr/Garaventa and the construction firms SULAG Hoch- & Tiefbau AG and E. Lauber & Sohn Hoch- u. Tiefbau AG, ZBAG has put together a forward-looking project: the new Kumme cableway will be the first gondola lift anywhere in Switzerland to carry passengers without the presence of an attendant at the station.

If the work on the gondola lift proceeds as planned, it will go into operation at the beginning of the 2020/21 winter season, with 56 ten-seater cabins carrying 1500 passengers an hour along the 3.2-kilometre route from Tufternkehr to the Unterrothorn via an intermediary station at Wyss Gufer. Waiting times around the Unterrothorn will be a thing of the past, and with the new lift and the installation of snow machines Zermatt Bergbahnen AG is promising a massive upgrade for the whole winter sports resort in terms of the quality of its transport and slopes.

Corporate and social responsibility

Franz Julen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of ZBAG, also looks to the future with confidence: "We have calculated various scenarios for the next four years. The effects of the Corona crisis will not leave ZBAG unaffected. However, the rock-solid financial basis built up over the years - together with the additional funds provided by our principal banks - will allow us to implement these major projects as quickly as possible without taking irresponsible financial risks. We owe this determined, far-sighted action to our shareholders and the next generation. We are also aware of our corporate and social responsibility towards our employees and within the destination. We are convinced that counter-cyclical investments in the time "when this is all over" will help us to get through this extraordinary situation well and will provide added value in the future for our loyal Swiss and international guests, who will hopefully be able to return to Zermatt soon".