Maintaining existing operating hours at Swiss airports

Switzerland's international airports constitute key transport infrastructure of national importance. Regional airports operating scheduled flights make a vital contribution to the attractiveness of their region. If they are to meet the demand for air travel and air freight in future, and hence continue to play a major role in supporting the Swiss economy, airports and their users need competitive operating hours.

Competitive operating hours – essential for a competitive aviation market

Competitive operating hours are a key factor for airports. Swiss airports, however, have comparatively limited operating times. In particular – and in contrast to foreign hub airports – an extremely restrictive night-time curfew was imposed on Zurich Airport. This presents significant obstacles to its operation as an intercontinental hub. Airport operating hours must enable airlines to deploy their fleets efficiently in a highly competitive market and allow them to offer their passengers and air freight customers departure and arrival times that are internationally competitive and in line with demand. This is particularly important during daytime shoulder periods. The Federal Council has recognised this, and in its 2016 aviation policy report it noted that any further restrictions on the operating hours of its international airports would cause difficulties for companies operating out of Switzerland.

Airports are taking steps to keep flight movements within operating hours

Capacity constraints at airports affect the punctuality of departing and arriving flights. Delays that build up over the course of a day can sometimes continue until late in the evening. In collaboration with air traffic control and the airlines, the operators of Switzerland's international airports are implementing carefully coordinated measures to enable flights to be handled within the restrictive operating hours.

Stop putting aviation at a disadvantage to other modes of transport

While long-distance trains and cars or coaches on motorways can drive at any time of day or night, Swiss airports are subject to very strict night-time curfews. Against this backdrop, SIAA opposes any further disadvantageous conditions being imposed on the aviation industry compared with road and rail.

Conclusions

  • Swiss airports that operate scheduled flights accept the restrictions on operating hours currently in force that are designed to meet local residents' needs for peace and quiet during the noise-sensitive hours of the night.
  • They are taking steps to improve punctuality, which is affected by capacity constraints, in order to be able to comply with the restrictive operating hours.
  • The operating hours currently in force at the airports must be retained to ensure that Switzerland's accessibility can be maintained and the industry can continue to competitively serve the demand for flights and air freight in future. The Federal Council also backs this stance in its 2016 aviation policy report.
  • So no further restrictions on operating hours should be imposed at Swiss airports with scheduled flights!