The Council of State presented on Wednesday the Objectives Agreement, which binds the Canton of Geneva to Genève Aéroport. This document sets out the essential milestones for the controlled operation and development of the airport platform and its accessibility for the 2019
– 2024 period. It complements the Sectoral Aviation Infrastructure Plan (SAIP) sheet adopted on 14 November 2018 by the Federal Council.
The Objectives Agreement, incorporating the SAIP framework adopted in November 2018, establishes the necessary overall balance between the society’s and the economy’s interests and environmental protection. Thus, the parties ensure that they “ do everything possible to preserve the airport’s public service mission, to give it the means to adapt its infrastructure in order to absorb the increase in the number of passengers while limiting the impact on residents and the environment ” (art. 2).
Governance is also specified: in particular, it is planned that the parties will continue and strengthen their collaboration with the municipalities neighbouring the airport and with local residents’ associations. The importance of a regional dimension adapted to the challenges of the environment, spatial planning, land mobility and economic dynamics is also stated therein.
The framework set by the first SAIP sheet includes an innovative and dynamic system. In particular, the explanation concerning the two noise curves: the medium-term noise curve, which determines the maximum development margin for air traffic noise in Geneva, and the long-term curve, of 2030, which determines air traffic noise footprint reduction.
The measures to achieve these objectives are explained, as are the elements contained in the SAIP sheet:
- reduction in delays of flights scheduled before 22:00 but that take off after 22:00;
- no flights planned after 22:00, with the exception of 3 long-haul flights, which would then be operated by aircraft with the best acoustic performance;
- pricing policy favouring quieter aircraft.
For what concerns the timetable, the 5:00 to 6:00 slot is not used, thus confirming current practice, and the 22:00 to 23:00 and 23:00 to midnight slots are “ avoided as much as possible ” in accordance with the SAIP sheet.
A new article requires Genève Aéroport to ensure that its staff will give priority to public transport for short and medium-distance business destinations. The use of public transport by employees is encouraged with a range of concrete measures and its staff travel by train for all distances below 500 kilometres, under an internal directive that came into force in April 2018.
The platform accessibility by public transport is an important part of the agreement. Genève Aéroport must encourage 58% of passengers and 44% of employees to use public transport to get to the airport by 2030, in order to help reduce road traffic and reduce the need for new parking spaces.
Two new articles (7 and 8) detailing the efforts to be made in terms of air quality and climate protection are emerging. The airport must therefore favour less polluting aircraft through its pricing policy, offset and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ensure 100% renewable electricity, reduce waste and increase recycling, and consume sustainably by offering labelled local products. The Consultative Commission for the Control of Air Traffic Nuisances (CCLNTA) is responsible for monitoring the evolution of greenhouse gases and produces a periodic report for the Genève Aéroport Board of Directors and the Council of State.
Other important elements are provided for in the agreement, such as air service, infrastructure, social environment and control of cost growth.
Genève Aéroport did not wait for the current step to act. Many measures are already in place to reduce the platform’s environmental impact.
The airport is one of some 49 European airports certified ACA3+, a certification issued by the European Airports Council (Airports Council International, ACI) to airports that fully offset CO2 emissions for the activities they manage and commit to a proactive policy of reducing their emissions. Genève Aéroport also undertakes to no longer use fossil fuels for heating and cooling its infrastructure by 2025.
Stabilisation and then reduction of the noise footprint will be achieved through three types of measures, included by the Objectives Agreement:
- BETTER MANAGEMENT OF DELAYS
Gentleman’s agreement with airlines to reduce take-offs after 22:00. This collaborative approach, an innovation proposed upstream as a preventive measure by Genève Aéroport, aims to involve the platform’s stakeholders in a noise control approach in the 22:00 – 24:00 time slot.
Quota system: Genève Aéroport proposes to the FOCA the introduction of a strong incentive system to limit late take-offs after 22:00. Airlines will be allocated “ quotas ” for delayed take-offs and will need to comply with them. When the quotas are exhausted, companies will have to pay a high incentive fee to be able to take off. The system designed is therefore particularly restrictive. This system will be implemented when the operating regulations are adopted.
Measure already implemented: Better prioritisation of departures planned between 21:30 and 22:00 to reduce departure that exceed 22:00 (since 2018).
PROHIBITION OF PLANNED TAKE-OFFS AFTER 22:00
As is already the practice today, flights cannot be scheduled for take-off after 22:00, with the exception of three long-haul flights (measure provided for in the Objectives Agreement, as well as the decision not to use the time slot from 5:00 to 6:00).
All these measures will make it possible to stabilise the noise curve initially with respect to the medium-term noise curve, with a maturity estimated at 2022. Every effort is already being made to speed up the process as much as possible. Nevertheless, it is possible that the noise curve may increase slightly further before stabilising.
In a second step, these measures will lead to a reduction in noise, which will then have to reach the target curve known as the permissible noise curve in 2030, a long-term noise curve fixed in the SAIP sheet and of a lower range than the first curve.
Dossier soon to be submitted to the FOCA
In parallel with this work, Genève Aéroport will soon submit a dossier to the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA), enabling it to make progress in the implementation of the concrete measures provided for in the SAIP sheet. This file, composed of about twenty parts, determines the various works that the airport will carry out to stabilise noise. It will be formalised by an amendment to the Operating Regulations, which govern all activities, in particular operational activities carried out by Genève Aéroport, in the Swiss, European and international regulatory and legal context. As part of the FOCA’s validation procedure for this dossier, it is expected that it will be submitted for public consultation in September.
A clear and binding framework for controlled development
The Convention and the FOCA dossier thus establish a clear and binding framework at Genève Aéroport. They are the obvious response to the concerns of the municipalities bordering the airport and its neighbours, while respecting the requirements of the concession granted by the Confederation to Genève Aéroport, in a difficult and essential balance.
Everything is being done by the Canton of Geneva and Genève Aéroport, in compliance with the Federal concession, to curb the nuisances caused by the airport while consolidating its viability in a sustainable manner. The airport is indeed an essential platform in Geneva and its very large region, whether for business traffic, international Geneva, tourism or family reunification.
ABOUT THE SAIP SHEET FOR GENÈVE AÉROPORT
The SAIP sheet of Genève Aéroport adopted by the Federal Council in November 2018 defines the framework for the operation and development of airport infrastructure. It lays down the general operating conditions, the airfield perimeter, the equipment, the noise exposure, as well as the elements for nature and landscape protection.
It also defines the cantonal margin of manoeuvre in terms of spatial planning, particularly in relation to noise protection. In this field, the sheet includes an innovative solution providing two chronologically consecutive noise curves to guide the authorities’ efforts up to 2030.
The medium-term noise curve, which is binding for the authorities and the operator, corresponds to the expected development of the airport in the medium term. The long-term noise curve 2030 corresponds to the evolution of long-term noise exposure by 2030. This noise curve takes into account the renewal of the fleet, the reduction in the predicted delays of long-haul flights planned during the day but taking off after 22:00, and the possible planning of three long-haul flights during the night hours (22:00 – 24:00) operated with aircraft with the best acoustic performance. With this noise curve, which reflects a decrease in noise exposure, part of the population and some land should be freed from aircraft noise constraints by 2030.
This sheet was subject to a wide consultation with the concerned Swiss and French authorities. This allowed Genève Aéroport to take into account all the expectations in order to place the airport’s evolution in the wider context of the sustainable development of the region.
In accordance with its strategic goals and in line with its values, Genève Aéroport works to reconcile its economic, social and environmental responsibilities in the interests of sustainable development.
These commitments are translated into concrete solutions for the management of the entire airport infrastructure and the services offered on the platform. They are implemented in the relations with the main stakeholders: users, local residents, employees and partners.