Swiss airspace re-opens after ‘technical malfunction’

“We now expect flight operations to resume at reduced capacity before midday,” Zurich Airport said. © Keystone / Christian Merz

A technical problem with the air traffic control system halted take-offs and landings at Swiss airports early on Wednesday morning. Flights resumed from Zurich and Geneva from 8.30am, the Skyguide agency confirmed.

This content was published on June 15, 2022 - 13:31

Skyguide initially said the closure would be in effect “until further notice” after the malfunction early in the morning.

A few hours later, it saidExternal link the airspace closure had been lifted at 8.30am local time and air traffic over Switzerland had resumed along with operations at the country's two national airports in Geneva and Zurich.

"Skyguide regrets this incident and its consequences for its customers and partners, as well as for the passengers at the two national airports,” it said in a statement.

Skyguide said the problem - a network malfunction at a Geneva computer centre - was identified at 4am on Wednesday. It was later reported that the problem had been caused by the failure of both a switch and a back-up system, requiring a hardware component to be replaced. 

A cyber attack was definitely ruled out as a possible cause, said Skyguide. 

At no time was the safety of passengers threatened, Alex Bristol, director of Skyguide, told Swiss public radio, RTS.

Progressive resumption

“We now expect flight operations to resume at reduced capacity before midday,” Zurich Airport said in statementExternal link, advising passengers to check information provided by airlines before departing for the airport. It added that check-in was continuing.

A total of 77 flights were cancelled and 17 planes were re-routed to other neighbouring countries. From 10am air traffic was fully operational at Zurich.

Geneva Airport also tweetedExternal link that traffic had started to resume progressively from 8.30am but “several flights are cancelled”. Affected passengers are advised to contact their airlines for further information.

A British Airways plane was the first to take off from Geneva Airport at 9.30am, followed by an Easyjet plane, Keystone-SDA News Agency confirmed.

Take-offs are expected to be delayed by 2-4 hours and 13 flights were cancelled at Geneva.

Although it is under French air control, the EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg was also affected. Very few early morning flights were able to take off or land, the airport authorities said.

Swiss International Air Lines said External linkarriving long-haul flights were being diverted to various airports in neighbouring countries, including Milan, Lyon and Vienna. It expected a return to normal during the day but "irregularities" may occur. Around 30 short-haul flights to and from Geneva and Zurich were cancelled.

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