A better aircraft landing path

The residents living around Nernier want incoming flights to stop coming over their town. They have made a perfectly reasonable proposition.

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Casablanca to Lyon via Geneva

Passengers on the AirArabia flight from Casablanca to Lyon on the evening of Saturday 4 August dropped into Geneva airport, then finally left here 50 minutes after midnight.

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11:32 Posted in Special days and notable incidents | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: albinati, a320, geneva, airport, late, flights | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook


Hard times: not for the rich and influential!

Despite these difficult economic times, those that have seem to get even more, sometimes beyond the borders of legality. Perhaps, as with some chimpanzees,  it is built into their DNA.

A new scientific report by the magazine Nature looks at the contrasting behaviour of the chimpanzee and its african cousin, the bonobo. Like chimpanzees, with whom they share 99.6% of genomes, bonobos and humans share 98.7 percent of the same genetic blueprint. However, they have distinctly different behaviours, both of which can be seen in humans. As the report says (and you can hear a BBC World Service review of this report, repeated on World Radio Switzerland)

Bonobo.JPGBonobos make love, not war. Chimps have been documented to kill and make war. Bonobos share food with total strangers, but chimps do not.

In our human world we see constant news articles that demonstrate how some humans are more akin to the chimpanzees than to the bonobos. However much they have, these humans desire ever more money, power and influence, and are often willing to go to, and even beyond, the legal limits. Regrettably, the supervisory authorities often seem unwilling to use their regulatory powers, so this behaviour goes uncontrolled.

Unsurprisingly, top bankers and their associates feature prominently in this list of chimpanzee-like behaviour. One, however, has recently gone too far over the limits. According to reports on Saturday June 16, Rajat Gupta, a former director of Goldman Sachs (the bank that helped Greece get into the Euro zone!) has been convicted of leaking confidential information to a former friend and business partner.

Mr Gupta sat on the boards of Goldman Sachs, Proctor & Gamble and American Airlines (he could probably fly anywhere for free!) and was world-wide head of the consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. He clearly had everything that anyone could want, yet he wanted still more. Now, instead of working on his golf handicap, he is contemplating many years in a US jail. As far as I know, his defence has not yet offered his DNA profile as a mitigating factor, but maybe one day ... !

In Switzerland, the rich and famous equally seem to want more and more, whilst the regulatory bodies procrastinate interminably. On the same day, the Swiss paper "Le Temps" carried an editorial suggesting that the Swiss Parliament (le Conseil national) had conspired to prevent the Swiss from voting on the initiative of Thomas Minder to ban excessive payments to executives ("contre les rémunérations abusives"). This initiative was handed to the Swiss authorities on February 26, 2008, i.e. 1573 days ago.

It is not hard to imagine some reasons for this delay. The political parties in Switzerland may receive donations for undisclosed amounts of money by unnamed donators. The members of both Chambers may have outside affiliations which, whilst normally being disclosed, may affect their point of view. Finally, there are very effective lobbies of powerful outside interests which try to influence members.

The end result of this is that Thomas Minder has shortly to decide whether to withdraw his initiative. He is reported as saying that he would have available only about 100,000 francs to invest in a campaign, whereas his adversaries would have millions at their disposal! Personally, if he had a Web site where I could make a donation then I would do so, merely on the principle that people should have a right to vote on the initiative.

Nearer home, and of particular interest to me and the association of which I am President, is the continual growth in air traffic around Geneva. I have the distinct impression that the same DNA mentality may be playing a rôle in the desire of the airport authorities to have more and more flights to more and more places at all available hours of the day and night. In this case, the regulatory authorities, who should be defending the rights of the airport neighbours to a minimum of nuisances and nights of sleep undisturbed by the noise of aircraft flying until after midnight, appear not to want to interfere.

The example which makes me doubt whether these authorities really care about the airport neighbours is that of the acceptance by the airport management of a final incoming flight from Lisbon by the portuguese airline TAP. Progressively, over the last few years, this flight has been scheduled later and later, so that now it is scheduled to arrive at 11h35 pm. As such, it is the last scheduled flight into Geneva, as well as being the last TAP flight to leave Lisbon for the principal mainland Europe destinations.

The two regulatory bodies which could have affected this decision are the Geneva state authorities (state councillor François Longchamp is president of the Geneva airport administrative council) and the Swiss Federation Civil Aviation Office (OFAC). Sadly, it is unrealistic to expect the Geneva authorities to do anything: the airport is, for Geneva finances, the goose which lays the golden egg. Thus, they will insist that this is a federal affair under the competence of OFAC.

OFAC, to whom we wrote to complain about this extreme lateness of the flight from Lisbon (click here to see the letter), normally side with the airport. In this case, their reply, which arrived yesterday, seems to obey this observed rule. After the falsely reassuring paragraph reiterating their principle that airlines should be restrictive in scheduling flights between 10 pm and 6 am, there is a paragraph clearly written by the airport management trying to justify the flight, followed by their own (OFAC) statement that the planning of this flight, albeit at the end of the evening, is perfectly normal. Tout va très bien, Madame la Marquise.

So how is the flight justified (francophones can read the text here)? Firstly, by the need for the airport to ensure an increased number of destinations from Geneva: this argument is completely irrelevant since Lisbon has always been one of the destinations. Secondly, a flight at the end of the evening is necessary to ensure the maintenance of the aircraft before its departure the following morning: again, completely irrelevant, especially since TAP has its own maintenance facilities in Lisbon, and the later the flight arrives in Geneva, the less time there is for maintenance. Finally, the airport management has made the airline aware of the constraints in Geneva: clearly, these constraints have not been sufficiently strongly emphasised to stop TAP progressively retarding the arrival time.

For me, the conclusion is that the airport authorities have capitulated without any serious protest to a request by TAP to land aircraft in Geneva later and later. Either this management does not care about its neighbours or it could not bear to envisage the loss of face by refusing the flight (which would leave only 4 flights per day from Lisbon!). Either way, we suffer the consequence of this craven acceptance: we might suffer even more if/when other airlines realise how late they can send evening flights to Geneva. Perhaps we don't protest enough because we have the Bonobo type of DNA!

11:32 Posted in Potpourri | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: geneva, airpoort, dna, bonobo, chimpanzee, night flights | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook


Is Swiss suppressing some Zurich flights?

For the last two days the first morning flight of Swiss to Zurich has been suppressed. Yesterday the last Swiss flight from Zurich to Geneva was half-suppressed. Signs of the hard times?

For years the first flight out in the mornings has always been the Swiss flight LX2801 to Zurich, scheduled to depart at 6am (usually over my head at Versoix!), whilst the last flight back at night has been LX2818 from Zurich, scheduled to arrive at 11h20 pm. However, for the last two days (Thursday 24 May and Friday 25 May) the morning flight has been cancelled. Since the next Swiss flight to Zurich is not too much later (LX2805 at 7h40 am) it seems likely that there have not been enough passengers for the early flight, so these passengers booked on the early flight have to wait for the next one.This in turn implies that these early passengers would not be able to transit to early Swiss flights from Zurich!

Yesterday, the last evening flight was also cancelled. However, the one before that (LX2816, due to leave Zurich at 8h35 pm) was actually delayed until about the same time as LX2818 would actually have left. In other words, effectively the two flights were coalesced into one, which left more or less when LX2818 should have left. Thus, the flight would have been available for passengers returning to Geneva via Zurich (if it had not then those passengers would NOT have been pleased!).

Will this continue? I don't know: what I do know is that on the flight departures list of the airport the first morning flight LX2801 was simply not mentioned, which tends to suggest that it was not simply cancelled today.

Of course, for those of us in Versoix who want our early morning wake-up call, I can say that between 6am and 7h30am this morning (my radio alarm time) I had the doubtful pleasure of hearing 18 jets taking off. Unsurprisingly, the majority of these (10) were easyJet Switzerland. Tonight, unless the wind changes direction, it will be the people living in Vernier who will hear the aircraft (again, mostly easyJet) returning over their heads (although if there is not too much wind we in Versoix may nonetheless have some of these late arrivals be allowed to come in over our heads).

Clearly, of course, this is not a problem to people who have had their dwellings soundproofed at the airport's expense: they simply have to close the windows of their bedroom (and hope for a cool summer!).

TP942.JPGps: don't forget that as from tomorrow, Saturday 26 May, the last scheduled flight every day will be that from Lisbon to Geneva, operated by TAP and scheduled to arrive at 10 minutes before midnight, so don't necessarily open your bedroom windows once the last Swiss flight is in!

12:26 Posted in Potpourri | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: swiss, zurich, geneva, airport | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook


Geneva airport: head in the sand again!

Yet again we have delayed and cancelled flights, this time to Portugal, due to strikes. Yet again the Geneva Airport Web site fails to give any warnings: why?

We could all know that there would be trouble for flights to and from Portugal today, Friday 11 May, as it had been announced that the Portuguese Air Traffic Controllers would be striking today (and in all probability will do likewise on Thursday and Friday for the next two weeks. For Geneva this affects easyJet and TAP flights to Lisbon and Porto. The easytravelreport.com site confirms this, saying

Portuguese air traffic controllers strike
Expect flight delays or even cancellations.
11, 17, 18, 24 and May 25 2 hours per shift from 07:00 to 09: 00, from 2-4 PM and from 9-11PM on the continent and Madeira). Here's what TAP has to say for the 11th.

The Web sites of both easyJet and TAP confirm this, though you have to look for the information (on easyjet.com as "Latest Travel Info"), as these sites are not just for Geneva flights.

I have said it before, and I will say it again: why on earth cannot the Geneva Airport web site also have an equivalent information on events which could affect flights in the next few days or weeks? The only likely reason that I can think of (apart from them never wanting to mention problems!) is that the best place to put it (on the initial Web page) is already taken up by advertising-style alternating images (which might bring in more money!).

I suppose that I am still whistling in the dark!


easyJet ropes off their automatic check-in terminals

Last year, some easyJet automatic check-in terminals were often broken. Now, at busy times, most are roped off. Result: back to those long zig-zag queues before the counters! Why?

I noticed this "back to the past" approach when going to the airport with someone who had a Tuesday flight back to London. In the area where there are located about 20 automatic check-in machines, almost all of them were roped off and hence made inaccessible. The inevitable consequence was one of those long queues where one moves slowly left then right in a snaky queue between parallel tapes. What we could describe as a "back to the past" traditional method of queueing, as well as being a reason why passengers are told to be at the airport two hours in advance of the departure!

Why was this the case: I have no idea. It is probable that this was a busy time of day for easyJet (around 2pm), and that there are quiet times (I am not quite sure when these could be!) when the automated check-in machines are made available. Maybe, also, the unstructured queuing to get at a working check-in machine was causing frustration and arguments between passengers!

Of course, at some airports passengers can opt for "Speedy Boarding", via an extra payment, to have access to priority check-in desks (I am unsure whether easyJet in Geneva has such check-in desks). Maybe this will apply to the flights designed to be attractive to business travellers (fast check-in, choice of seats, special lounge maybe?), as easyJet tries to lure these passengers away from the more traditional airlines? However, Lufthansa, one of many airlines currently losing money, are hitting back with a full page advert (in Le Matin Dimanche today, 6 May) for Geneva-Berlin next month from CHF 49 (not including a possible CHF 11 credit card charge!).

So what next? How about the system that we get in post offices, Swisscom help centres and other places, whereby we enter at a gate where we are given a numbered ticket (perhaps by pushing a button), plus an estimate of the expected waiting time, and then wait patiently until our number flashes up? If we knew that it would be long (more than 30 minutes) we could even go and get a coffee and a biscuit (against payment, of course, and at inflated prices!).

I have not looked at the use of the automatic check-in terminals for other airlines, but I did not notice any similar snaky queues anywhere else.


12:46 Posted in easyJet anecdotes | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: easyjet, geneva, airport, check-in | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook


Foreign Air Force planes visit Geneva

Since mid-March 2012 big Hercules C-130 transport aircraft of the Algerian and Moroccan Air Forces have been visiting Geneva regularly. What are they transporting?

These aircraft, with just one exception, do not emit any callsign to indicate what flight they are operating. Unsurprisingly, they do not appear on the Airport arrivals and departure boards. Somehow, however, the spotters around the airport seem always to know when they are coming, and hence are invariably there to take photos.

One recent one, belonging to the Royal Moroccan Air Force, came here yesterday morning, May 2, then left just before 8 am this morning. Its departure over Vernier would have been very noticeable to Vernier residents: the ARAG microphone in Vernier indicated a level several times more noisy than any other early departure (though the departures to the USA subsequently registered similar, though lower, levels). This level of noise will probably be repeated, perhaps today, by a different Hercules of the Royal Moroccan Air Force which arrived today at 10h30 am. On the Web there is a nice picture of this aircraft, with registration CNA-OI and in military camouflage colouring.

Also very much of interest is the Hercules registered as 7T-WHP and belonging to the Algerian Air Force. Since 16 March of this year the aircraft comes to Geneva every Friday between mid-morning and early afternoon. It stays for two to three hours before leaving again. One would suppose that this is the time required to unload it and/or load it, but as to what is unloaded or loaded we have no knowledge. Perhaps someone could learn more by going to a vantage point around the airport tomorrow, Friday 4 May, equipped with a pair of high-power binoculars!

It is interesting to note that Switzerland has a problem with some Algerians whom it would like to deport, since the Algerian Government refuses to sign an agreement to take back these people. This has led to the Geneva State Councillor, Isabelle Rochat, to make proposals to incite these unwelcome Algerians to return voluntarily to their country in return for certain financial incentives. These proposals have been extensively debated.

Perhaps the Geneva government should ask the airport to refuse these Algerian Air Force flights until the Algerian Government accepts that they return carrying some of its unwelcome (in Switzerland) citizens!


15:45 Posted in Unusual aircraft | Permalink | Comments (3) | Tags: hercules, geneva, airport, algeria, morocco, rochat | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook


TAP flight arriving around midnight

My predictions of flights from Lisbon to Geneva arriving around midnight were rapidly confirmed last night, but other late flights should not have been allowed.

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10:04 Posted in Special days and notable incidents | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: tap, geneva, airport, westair | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook


International noise awareness day

Today, April 25 2012, is International Noise Awareness day. The reports of the great and continuing increase in traffic at Geneva airport is very relevant to our noise awareness.

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11:35 Posted in Special days and notable incidents | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: noise, awareness, geneva, airport, health | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook


Palestinien militants to Tel Aviv this weekend

Today, Sunday 15 April, the web site of this newspaper says pro-palestinien militants refused boarding on EZS1525 to Tel Aviv. How about  other flights to Tel Aviv this weekend?

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Lille FC coach beats airport offside trap

March 2012 044.JPG

Last Friday night the driver of the coach of Lille Football club performed miracles to turn things around. The team then beat Evian 3-0 in Annecy and are now in third place.

It was late afternoon on Friday 23 March, when I was near the General Aviation centre, on the North (Jura) side of the airport, that I saw this luxurious red coach manoeuvering to get to near where the passengers on the private jets come through the customs and out into the car park. Knowing that region, I realised that he would be in big trouble, since that is a narrow road, at the end of which the area for turning round mostly has parked cars all over it, so I followed him down.


This coach turned out to be the official coach of Lille Football Club. The driver told me that he was there to meet the Lille FC players and staff, and then take them to Annecy to spend the night before playing Evian TG on the Saturday night. He would then bring them back to the airport, where they would fly back to Lille. I told him he would have two problems: turning his coach around and then queueing to go through the Vernier tunnel and the Bardonnex customs post.

He started an attempt to turn the coach around, with me trying to indicate when he was getting too close to a wall, a building or a car. After 15 minutes he was still trying when, by a great stroke of luck, the owner of the critical parked car arrived and moved it: ouf!

While waiting for the team to arrive, he told me that the opposing team, whose full name is Evian Thonon Gaillard F.C., had been promoted into the top league in France last season, after only one season in the second league. This rapid ascension seems to be in part because of support from the Danone Group. However, even when they were in the second league, their home ground did not meet the required standards, so they had to find a suitable ground to play their "home" matches. There was some talk of them playing in Geneva, but finally they opted to play in Annecy.

Their flight, in a Dornier DO-328 registered as OY-NCO and operated by Sun Air of Scandinavia, landed at 7h35 pm. A quick passage through customs meant that they left at around 8pm, so they would probably have missed the worst of the Friday night jams, got to Annecy and had a good night's sleep. They then beat Evian 3-0, thus keeping their third position in the French league, and returned to Geneva to take a flight on a similar, but different, Sun Air aircraft (OY-NCN): it left at 11pm on the Saturday night.


Curiously, when I looked up the result on the Swiss teletext on the Sunday morning I saw that the match was goalless at half-time, before finishing as 3-0 to Lille. The first goal for Lille was a penalty transformed by Hazard in the 36th minute! Maybe the person updating the teletext sports pages did not get enough sleep?

The next important encounter in Lille will take place next Wednesday, 28 March, when a team of lawyers of DSK United, renowned for their robust defensive play, will try to neutralise the attack of a team of state prosecutors.


11:11 Posted in Potpourri | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: lille, football, evian, geneva, airport | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook


Düsseldorf to Mallorca via Geneva

Shortly after takeoff, and for a second time this year, the Air Berlin flight AB9422 from Düsseldorf to Palma Mallorca turned south to come to Geneva before continuing to Palma. Why?

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More easyJet (night) flights this summer

Spring is here: the airline summer timetables will operate from Sunday 25 March. With another aircraft already here, easyJet will be running yet more (night?) flights this summer.

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16:31 Posted in easyJet anecdotes | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: easyjet, geneva, summer 2012 | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook


Volkswagen flies with Cayman Island aircraft

The Volkswagen car group has a fleet of 9 jet aircraft, including a big Airbus A319. All have been seen in Geneva this week and all are registered in the Cayman Islands!

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14:33 Posted in Potpourri | Permalink | Comments (1) | Tags: vw, volkswagen, geneva, airport, motor show | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook


Motor show visitors from Serbia?

Geneva airport had probably its first flight from and to Belgrade yesterday, 6 March: a flight by JAT Airways. The airport still calls the company Yugoslav Airlines!

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12:38 Posted in Special days and notable incidents | Permalink | Comments (7) | Tags: geneva, airport, belgrade, serbia | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook