Expanding Geneva airport sets noise reduction targets

Passengers numbers and flight movements are expected to increase significantly in the next 12 years. © KEYSTONE / SALVATORE DI NOLFI

Geneva airport has been told by how much it must reduce noise disturbance for people living in the surrounding region. Switzerland’s second busiest airport expects flight movements to increase by almost a quarter by the year 2030.

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On Wednesday, the government approved the noise reduction expectations that are contained within a wide-ranging strategy to upgrade Swiss aviation infrastructure to meet future demand. It sets targets for reducing the area around the airport exposed to harmful noise levels within the next 12 years (see image below).

Plan showing permitted noise corridor for Geneva airport. The red line marks the current area and the orange line the expected reduction of affected areas by 2030. Sectoral Aviation Infrastructure Plan


A recent report by the Swiss environment ministry revealed that excessive aircraft noise pollution affects 24,000 people during the day and 75,000 people at night. The figures cover the whole of Switzerland and relates not just to Geneva airport.

With the volume of commercial flights expected to significantly build up in the next few years, all Swiss airports will be subject to rules that seek to limit the amount of noise disturbance. Geneva predicts traffic to increase from 191,000 aircraft movements and 17.3 million passengers last year to 236,000 movements and 25 million passengers by 2030.

Geneva airport welcomed the government’s announcement for giving the airport clear guidance on how it can manage its expansion. “The reduction in noise pollution by 2030 is an ambitious goal, but Genève Aéroport considers it important and necessary for a sustainable development and the respect of its neighbours,” it said in a statement.

The airport added that it had spent more than CHF30 million ($30 million) in the last two years to improve its environmental footprint.

The airport operators plan to encourage airlines to upgrade fleets to quieter aircraft that emit less CO2. It also wants to reduce the number of flights that get delayed to later than 10pm. After this cut-off point, noise pollution levels are graded at ten times more harmful when the authorities measure their impact.

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