Zurich Airport to land flights late at night to avoid NATO-related disruption
To prepare for the NATO exercise due to take place in the skies above Europe from June 12 to 23, Zurich Airport has applied for and been given emergency permission to take off and land planes in the early hours of the morning. Authorities at the airport explained that while the measure is designed to reduce possible delays, unfortunately, they still cannot rule out massive disruption during the exercise.
Flights able to land at midnight in Zurich
According to a press release from the Federal Office for Civil Aviation (FOCA), reported in Blick, Zurich Airport has applied for and has received permission to take off and land flights during the early hours between June 12 and 23. The measure is designed to “reduce delays” at the airport by giving air traffic control an extra hour to fulfil the day’s schedule.
Instead of 11.30pm, planes will be able to arrive and depart from Zurich until 0.30am every night. Flights will then resume from 5am as usual. For most of June, the residents of Kloten, Bassersdorf, Bülach, Rümlang, Opfikon and Dietlikon will likely be subjected to more aircraft noise at later times of the night. It’s also important to bear in mind that only Zurich has applied for the extra time, although Basel and Geneva may see some NATO-related disruption too.
Air Defender 23 the main cause of delays in Zurich
Speaking to Blick, the FOCA said that the airport has been allowed to extend its working hours because of the Air Defender 23 NATO exercise. The largest air training event in the alliance's history will see major airspace in Bavaria closed on weekdays - airspace that is used to land a significant number of flights in Zurich.
As a result, Zurich will face a number of flight bottlenecks between June 12 and 23. Prisca Huguenin-dit-Lenoir, spokesperson for the Swiss air traffic control organisation Skyguide, told Blick that while they are in constant communication with the German authorities, and have created a flight plan that will circumvent the closed airspace, they cannot guarantee a disruption-less experience for passengers.
"Both airlines and air traffic control in Europe are trying to minimise the impact," she noted, but admitted that “especially in bad weather”, delays are highly likely. She encouraged all passengers flying during the exercise to check with their airline regularly. For example, a SWISS spokesperson told Blick that "as soon as the effects on flight operations are clearer, SWISS will provide transparent information."
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