09/01/2010

easyJet problems are NOT because of the unique runway, nor the airport technical services.

Jean-Pierre Jobin, the previous director of Geneva airport, denies that the problems of easyJet are related to having only one runway. I agree with almost all that he says.


In his letter include in this newspaper today, Wednesday 1 September, Jean-Pierre Jobin comments on the article which appeared in this newspaper on 23 August. I already wrote a blog on that, and from what I wrote it is clear that he and I do agree on some things. That does not mean that I will be joining his Association in favour of the airport (though, in the past, he was a member of ARAG and a regular attendee at the Annual General Meeting).

We do agree that, contrary to what was suggested by the original article, there is no evidence to suppose that the problems experienced by easyJet Switzerland all this Summer have been in any way caused by either the limitation of a single runway or the technical services provided by the airport. I would, however, add a rider to this statement, to the effect that there have been some reports of brief periods when a shortage of active air traffic controllers has meant some extra delays to aircraft movements. I have no direct confirmation of these reports, nor any idea whether they affected any scheduled flights of easyJet aircraft.

My own opinion is, however, that these recurrent problems for easyJet passengers, such as again happened last weekend, do rub off on the reputation of the airport itself. It is my belief that the senior management of the airport have allowed too much liberty to easyJet planning and operations. As a consequence, and as has clearly been the case this Summer, easyJet Switzerland has created schedules which attempt to make its aircraft fly more hours per day than in the Summer of 2009 (when there were problems, but not of the same magnitude).

One result of these schedules has been the high number of easyJet Switzerland aircraft unable to return to Geneva before the official closure hour of 0h30. In an article which appeared in the Geneva newspaper, Le Courrier, on 10 August, the head of the Geneva airport division for environmental and legal affairs, Marc Mounier, alluded to these when saying

L’AIG ne lui délivre alors pas d’autorisation de se poser après 0h29, lesquelles sont réservées aux causes exceptionnelles et imprévisibles.

Mais est-il toujours opportun de dérouter un avion et 150 passagers sur Lyon pour quelques minutes?

This implies that the airport authorities almost never allow commercial aircraft to land after the 0h29. The actual facts rather contradict this implication! In the period from June to August (well after the ash cloud problems!) there have been 5 days on which commercial aircraft have been allowed to land after 0h29, with a total of 8 aircraft. Of these, 7 have been those of easyJet Switzerland, the eighth being FlyBaboo. It is not easy to see any obvious reason for these delivered authorisations, for which the airport director consistently refuses to divulge what were considered as the exceptional and unforeseeable reasons.

The suggestion that the cases where there has been a refusal should not have been treated correctly according to the OFAC regulations is misleading and dangerous. Misleading, because it implies that this period from midnight to 0h30 is normal operational hours, whereas it is a generous grace period to cater for exceptionally delayed flights. Dangerous because it would then lead airlines to start to think that the airport closure would in reality be later than 00h30! How much later? 5 minutes, ten minutes, 30 minutes, ...? Carry that to the extreme, and the flight that left Berlin at around midnight would be allowed to land here well after one o'clock, rather than going to Lyon (in my opinion, it should never have left Berlin)!

It is very probable that the airport management is under considerable pressure to accept any requests made by its most important client airline. What the management may be forgetting, however, is that it also has a responsibility to the very many people living near the airport who would like to be able to sleep in a quiet environment.

12:55 Posted in easyJet anecdotes | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: easyjet, geneva, airport, runway, skyguide | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

The comments are closed.