Demonstrators take noise protest to the skies
Thousands of protesters have demonstrated peacefully against a controversial southern approach into Zurich airport.
They included residents who live beneath the flight path that has been operational since the end of October to reduce noise pollution over southern Germany.
Blowing whistles, wearing yellow caps and carrying balloons of the same colour, the marchers made their way from Balsberg to the airport.
Joining them were representatives of public authorities from the area, including Zurich city president, Elmar Ledergeber.
Having reached their destination – and with permission from airport officials – the demonstrators released their balloons into the air. There was no disruption to air traffic because of the action.
Organisers said over 10,000 people joined the march, while police put the figure closer to 7,000.
Since the southern approach has been operational, it has been used by more than 1,000 aircraft, amounting to about 3.5 per cent of all planes landing at Zurich.
Following Bern’s refusal last March to ratify an aviation accord with Berlin, the German government imposed tough, unilateral measures on night flights into Zurich from the north.
Zurich airport lies just 15 kilometres from the German border.
The southern approach was tested for months by the Swiss air traffic control agency, Skyguide, before becoming operational in October 2003.
Since then, thousands of residents living in affluent areas south of Zurich have had to endure flights every three minutes between 6am and 7am during the week, and between 6am and 9am at the weekend.
swissinfo with agencies
Tens of thousands of residents affected by a southern approach to Zurich airport protested against increased noise levels.
They marched to the airport and released thousands of yellow balloons.
The approach has been operational since October 2003.
It is a result of unilateral restrictions imposed by Germany to reduce noise levels in southern Germany from aircraft approaching Zurich from the north.
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