Sovereign security costs must be borne by the public purse

In its 2016 aviation policy report, the Federal Council notes that the threat level posed by unlawful interference with civil aviation remains high. The greatly extended programme of measures taken to date to counter such threats has led to a massive rise in security costs for the aviation industry. The majority of unlawful acts committed are directed against the state, but the costs of countermeasures are largely borne by the aviation industry.

Airports pay the costs of non-sovereign security themselves

Checking passengers, baggage and air freight all serve to protect the air transport system and is carried out in accordance with internationally harmonised rules. Switzerland's international airports pay for these non-sovereign security costs and pass them on to their users. It is not possible for regional airports to cover the costs of providing these services. Owing to the heavy financial burden this places on regional airports offering scheduled flights, these airports currently receive subsidies under the Confederation's special financing for civil aviation (SFLV) programme.

International airports also fund sovereign security measures

As well as these costs, Switzerland's international airports also bear national security costs, i.e. the costs of security measures designed to protect the general public rather than aviation travel alone. This applies in particular, for instance, to surveillance of the airport fence (inner and outer perimeter) and parked aircraft as well as patrolling landside and in buildings. In contrast to other modes of transport in Switzerland and at many airports abroad, this puts Swiss airports at a disadvantage, as these costs are not borne by the state but by the airports themselves.

Cost of police patrols should be borne by the state

The federal government already recognised the competitive disadvantage of Swiss aviation in its 2004 aviation policy report. At the time, a working group convened by the federal government recommended that the state should be responsible for sovereign security costs. SIAA therefore welcomes the decision to revisit the measure proposed once again in the 2016 aviation policy report to investigate the extent to which the costs for police patrols at international airports should be borne by the public purse. 13 years on from the 2004 aviation policy report, it is high time to finally implement this recommendation. The targeted support for regional airports operating scheduled flights should also be retained unchanged.

Conclusions:

  • Checking passengers, baggage and air freight serves to protect the air transport system. Therefore, international airports will continue to pay for these measures and pass the costs on to their users. The SFLV subsidies for the regional airports operating scheduled flights should be retained unchanged.
  • Countering threats that are primarily directed against the state is a national matter and therefore the responsibility of the state. Among other things, this includes police patrols to protect airport perimeters and airport facilities. These sovereign security costs for matters that are the responsibility of the state should be funded by the public purse.
  • SIAA therefore welcomes the Federal Council's willingness, as stated in the 2016 aviation policy report, to investigate the extent to which the cost of police patrols at airports should be borne by the public purse.
  • SIAA calls for these investigations, originally proposed in the 2004 aviation policy report, to be completed quickly.