A change in civil aviation law this year allows regional airports to opt for foreign air traffic navigation service providers instead of state-owned Skyguide.
The impending end of government subsidies for Skyguide’s services has put pressure on regional airports in Switzerland. According to the Der Bund paper, regional airports are dependent government subsidies of around CHF7 million ($6.99 million) to pay for Skyguide.
"However, this subsidy has been reduced every year since then. And from 2020, the federal government will no longer cover the difference," said Jorge Pardo, managing director of the Swiss Airports Association.
According to Urs Holderegger, spokesman for the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA), regional airports can now submit an application to have their air traffic services managed by another provider. FOCA, as the supervisory authority, would then be responsible for authorising and supervising the local air navigation services of third parties.
"The service provider must be certified in accordance with European standards and prove that safety is guaranteed at all times," said Holderegger.
Foreign providers looking to enter the Swiss market include Austria’s Austro Control, Germany’s DFS Aviation Services, and Sweden’s Aviation Capacity Resources. Norway’s Avinor Air Navigation company is also rumoured to be in the running.
Skyguide is also preparing itself for foreign competition: it plans on creating a subsidiary called Skyguide National. However, it is unclear if this will be run by Skyguide itself or a third party.