06/30/2011

Summer = Late flights!

The Summer holidays are now here for some already, this weekend for Geneva, and the signs are that there will be plenty of late flights to disturb people around the airport.


The noisiest flights are invariably departures, though they do have the minor advantage of decreasing rapidly as they climb. Versox and Vernier regions have to suffer most.

Since last weekend (Saturday 25 June included) there have been seven departures after 11pm, which might be considered slightly surprising because all regular flights are scheduled before 10pm. Not surprisingly, all except one (a Brussels Airlines departure just before midnight last Tuesday) belong to easyJet (Switzerland or UK). What is surprising, however, is that two of the six departures were without passengers: ferry flights to get an aircraft somewhere else.

I knew that in principle, ferry flights used to be forbidden after 10pm, so I queried this. The answer is that the airport management has, from this year, decided to classify them as commercial movements, which are allowed off until midnight (I don't seem to remember seeing this change announced anywhere). This despite the OFAC definition of a commercial flight as one carrying paying passengers and bookable by anyone. Although there have been a few non-easyJet late ferry flights this year, easyJet has by far the most of these.

These easyJet late ferry flights are mostly a result of the fact that easyJet Switzerland has no spare aircraft. Thus, when there is a problem with one of their aircraft, they no longer cancel flights (which caused a LOT of discontent last Summer), but instead "borrow" an aircraft from the parent company in the UK. Then, when the aircraft has finished its day helping out easyJet Switzerland, it may have to get back home!

There have also been a high number of late arrivals, culminating in two after midnight this morning (graciously split between Versoix and Vernier). Although I do not know the reason for one Lufthansa arrival, the other one (Air France from Paris) seems to have been an indirect consequence of an Information Technology incident affecting the company yesterday morning, which resulted in several flights between Paris and Geneva being cancelled or delayed. Perhaps the new Geneva Airport site, due to come into operation real soon now, will have a facility for warning passengers about such incidents.

The day that IT hackers attack airline sites, we might want to take a train ride!

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