The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos GR will be more diverse and colorful this year – at least as far as the car fleet for VIPs from all over the world is concerned. While dark A8 limousines usually roll bumper to bumper through the city in the mountains at the WEF, this year there will be a wide variety of models from the Ingolstadt manufacturer.
The reason for this are difficulties in global logistics: “It takes up to a year before the desired car can be delivered,” says Reto Branschi (63), explaining the wide range of types and the varied paint finish of the celebrity carriages. Branschi is Tourism Director of Davos-Klosters for 51 weeks a year, during the WEF week he is the head of the almost 100 specially selected drivers who chauffeur heads of state and government, embassy staff or ministers through Switzerland and Davos. “Now we’re just happy that we have enough vehicles at all,” says Branschi.
Mask requirement for drivers
But it could be tight: In the last few days, the number of WEF registrations has increased again significantly, around 2500 guests are now expected in Davos. Many apparently waited until the last moment to see whether the annual meeting would actually take place – and only then agreed.
One day before the opening of the WEF, Branschi gives the drivers, but also some female drivers, final instructions in a hotel near Zurich Airport. There is a strict dress code: “It is not allowed to transport a guest in a short-sleeved shirt.” It has to be a jacket or at least the red work jacket of the limousine service. And: Mask is mandatory as soon as a celebrity is in the car. Personal service is very important. “You get out, walk around the car and open the back door for the guest,” says Branschi. “But think of the central locking, otherwise it will be embarrassing!”
A whole set of equipment is available for drivers: including two mobile phones and a radio. When things have to be done quickly, it takes far too long to establish a connection via the mobile network. Apparently, not only cars, but also drivers are in short supply. Normally, most of them are police officers who take a week off especially for the WEF. But after the cancellation for the usual date in January, not everyone was able to postpone their holidays to May.
It’s not about the money
You won’t get rich during the Davos week, the working days are hard, the waiting times are long and sometimes it’s hectic. But because of the CHF 280 daily fee including food, nobody is here, it’s about more. This also applies to Cornelia Sägesser (36), who is still in email contact with a US Senator who was once her passenger. “I like this variety, and I’m also familiar with blue light driving,” says Sägesser, who has already taken part in a number of annual meetings.
This year, the VIP cars are all-electric, or at least plug-in hybrids. “When I drove from the airport to Davos in an electric car for the first time, I trembled as to whether the charge would really be enough,” recalls Sägesser. So that the juice doesn’t run out, charging is mandatory at every break. An Audi expert gives instructions for optimal charging and points out that the hybrids in Davos can only be driven electrically. Although the WEF itself will actually be more environmentally friendly, driving there by car will still be a burden on the environment.
guests in the passenger seat
Adryan Paris (52) has had many WEFs under his belt and loves meeting people you don’t normally get close to. “I’ve chauffeured Matt Damon twice. Or the former Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. After the trip, the Queen said goodbye to me personally with ‘Thank you, Adryan’ – that was nice,” recalls the operations manager in an emergency call center. However, there is one downer: The Thurgau has very little space in the rear this year, and the car allocated to him is not suitable for all passengers. But Paris hopes: “Maybe someone will sit in the passenger seat, like (the musician; ed.) Peter Gabriel.”
The cars arrived in Switzerland in 18 special transporters on Tuesday. Now they shimmer in all colors in a Zurich underground car park. Only the armored limousines for the most vulnerable guests are in a secret location, well guarded by the police. The rest of the fleet is made fit for use here, receives Swiss number plates, vignettes and special stickers. Because only with them is it possible to enter the strictly guarded security zone around the congress center.
And so that the WEF vehicles are always clean for the celebrities, each one comes with a small bag full of cleaning utensils.
World Economic Forum 2022 in Davos