10/10/2010

Night time curfew at Zurich and Geneva airports

The night curfews at Geneva and Zurich airports are not identical. After the recent transfer of the department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) from the Socialist party to the Christian Democrat party (PDC), might this change?


After the recent elections to the Swiss Federal Council, the responsibility for the department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) has passed from the Socialist party (Moritz Leuenberger , PS) to the Christian Democrat party (PDC). The tenors of Swiss industry have not waited very long before making their demands known.

Amongst the petitioners is the Director of Swiss International Airlines, Harry Hohmeister. According to an interview which he gave to the Swiss newspaper "SonntagsZeitung", he wants to see the current night-flight restrictions for Zurich airport relaxed: a later curfew and a changed system of runway usage.

For the information of Geneva residents, who already suffer from many night flights up to, and sometimes later than, half past midnight, the restrictions at Zurich are more in favour of people living around the airport. In April 2010 the Swiss Federal Court approved a change in the regulations, specifically for Zurich airport, to make 11pm the normal closure time for commercial flights (with a 30 minute grace period for delayed flights): this change came into force on 29 July 2010. A parallel request for compensatory changes to allow a more flexible use of the runway system between 6am and 7am, and between 9pm and 10pm was not yet approved.

The reasons given for this change were stated to be the local residents’ need for a quiet environment. The Chief Executive Officer of Zurich airport, Thomas Kern, was quoted as saying that “A quiet night-time sleep of our neighbors is important to us."

A confirmation of this new master plan is in consultation until the end of October 2010, but Mr Hohmeister appears to fear that it will not be changed. According to him, this will mean that companies will desert Zurich, in favour of such airports as Munich and Vienna, leaving Zurich airport as merely a provincial airport. This timing is also probably a reason why he is agitating now. In my humble opinion (IMHO), this is a classic case of the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) approach often used when no logical reasons can be demonstrated!

And Geneva airport? Unlike Zurich airport, the CEO (Robert Deillon) does not appear to have such worries about people around the airport having their sleep disturbed by late flights, almost always those of easyJet Switzerland. The airport often grants permission for delayed connercial flights after 00h30, even where there is not any obvious evidence of the "exceptional and unforeseeable" conditions for such permissions. Despite frequent requests to know of the exact reasons for such permissions, no such reason has ever yet been publicly disclosed: the airport merely says that OFAC has accepted their reasons.

So what next. Will the political move of DETEC control to the right have any effect on the regulations at Zurich airport? And, if these regulations could be relaxed then what could we expect from the Geneva airport management, almost certainly heavily influenced by their main client? Automatic acceptance of commercial flights after half past midnight? Re-acceptance of scheduled departures after 10pm (currently there are none)? Even a resurrection of the idea of extending the use of runway B for some private commercial flights? Or something else entirely, currently held under wraps?

Just as when I was small, I wrote on a piece of tissue paper my request to Father Christmas, for a statement from Robert Deillon similar to that of Thomas Kern. I then put it in the chimney above a blazing fire: it has just gone up in smoke :-(

 

12:36 Posted in Noise around Geneva airport | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: airport, night, curfew, geneva, zurich, easyjet | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

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