12/08/2012

Quelques retards à l'aéroport

Friday, 7 December at Geneva airport: 5 to 10 cm of snow, a few slightly delayed flights and some flights diverted to Lyon or Zurich. If only that were true!


Somehow, snow always seems to cause panic around Geneva, including the airport. The Friday evening 7h30 pm RTS news program talked about 5 to 10 cm in the Geneva region, whilst their correspondent, Nicolas Beer, mentioned a few delays (quelques retards).

This paper, on its Web site, was a little more explicit, mentioning that as well as some delays, often due to problems at other airports, some incoming aircraft had to be diverted to Lyon or Zurich. In fact, the overall trajectory plots show quite a lot of circling aircraft both north and south of the airport. One easyJet aircraft from Madrid circled south of the airport, then seemed to want to make a landing approach, but had to go to Zurich instead: I don't think that too many easyJet aircraft are seen in Zurich.

20121207_teletext.JPGThe teletext on the Swiss RTS television was a bit nearer the truth when reporting that there had been delays of up to 70 minutes, plus 30 or so cancelled flights. That is already bad, and I have every sympathy for the passengers, and for the airline staff who normally do a terrific job in trying to keep things going: it must be a planning nightmare.

However, to get to the actual truth, it is best to go to the teletext pages which show the Geneva airport situation in full (teletext pages 460 to 473). This showed 41 incoming flights cancelled, plus 36 outgoing ones. As for delays, I counted at least 15 incoming flights with over 2 hours delay, with the most imaginative being the morning EZS fliight from Paris Orly: 5 hours late because it came here via Nice! A similar story for outgoing flights: already in the morning the Belgian flight to Brussels left 4h30 late, whilst Lufthansa to Dusseldorf left 5 hours late. Not quite "up to 70 minutes"!

I repeat that I take no pleasure in seeing this difficult situation. What I do take exception to is that there always seems to be an underplaying of any difficulties. They may not be the fault of anyone at the airport (where I am sure that the technical staff worked intensely all day), but it is something that I constantly notice. What is wrong with telling the people the whole truth?

I also noticed that as on previous occasions, the Geneva Web site is quite difficult to reach in times of trouble. Of course, that site is not particularly helpful at the best of times: the latest news today is of the imminent opening of the Montreux Jazz shop in the airport. When will they think of putting an up-to-date bulletin like the Swiss railways do?

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