Switzerland's air traffic policy: no to a Zurich-centric policy!


The Department of Economy, Employment and External Affairs (DEEE) and Geneva International Airport announce:

Following the opening up for consultation, by the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications on 26 July 2004, of the report on Switzerland’s air traffic policy, the Canton of Geneva and Geneva International Airport are of the opinion that the draft is overwhelmingly a reflection of the crisis affecting SWISS, and also Zurich and Basle airports, and gives precedence to Kloten airport in particular, where the installations are overly large, while those of Geneva are perfectly suited to a steady increase in its passenger traffic.

When reading the report, a number of comments should be made:

  • While it is clear that Switzerland, a country that exports and is a destination for tourists, needs direct continental and intercontinental air connections, the quality of the network does not necessarily depend on the establishment of a hub at one Swiss airport. It should be remembered in this connection that a hub is a concept for the operation of an airline and not of an airport.
  • Civil aviation infrastructure - particularly airports - should be designated as being “of public utility”, by analogy with the road and rail transport infrastructures.
  • The Confederation should ensure that the principle of equality of treatment is respected. First between the various transport modes: for road and rail transport, the allocations and costs for noise abatement for local residents are paid by the Confederation, while the airports finance theirs entirely. Second, between the three national airports (Basle, Geneva and Zurich): the distinctions made by the Federal Council in the context of the Sectoral Plan for Air Traffic Infrastructure should be reviewed.

Finally, the reasons given for the Confederation for assuming authority over the national airports run counter to the trend elsewhere in the world of giving airports greater autonomy. According to the precept that “ he who gives the orders pays”, can we be sure that the Confederation will have the capability to exercise greater authority? The present, very different, legal status of each of the three national airports guarantees them the freedom of action they need to operate what are truly airport enterprises, performing their obligations to the national community.