German court dismisses airport noise case
A court in southern Germany has thrown out a number of Swiss complaints in an ongoing dispute over flights paths to Switzerland's main airport at Zurich.
The judges said there was no legal basis for any of the eight plaintiffs – four local councils from the Zurich region and four individuals – to take their case over noise pollution to a German court.
In a ruling on Tuesday, the court in the state of Baden-Württemberg said the Swiss authorities were responsible for flight regulations governing Zurich airport.
The plaintiffs had argued that flight restrictions over southern Germany were having an adverse effect on property prices and on their health.
Restrictions, in place for nearly three years, have forced aircraft approaching Zurich to fly over affluent residential areas at weekends and at night.
A complaint by the airport authorities and Swiss International Airlines is pending in the German courts.
The Mannheim tribunal turned down their case in 2003, but the appeals authority still has to rule on it.
The plaintiffs said the flight restrictions went against German and international law.
The Zurich local authorities said they were disappointed and puzzled by the latest court ruling.
"It is highly irritating to be sent from one court to the next," a spokeswoman said, adding that they were considering filing an appeal.
The Swiss Federal Aviation Office declined to comment on Tuesday's verdict. It said the Swiss case was also pending at the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice. A decision is expected in the second half of this year.
Zurich airport, Switzerland main flight hub, is about 20 kilometres away from the border with Germany, which unilaterally imposed the restrictions in 2003 after the Swiss parliament rejected a bilateral accord.
swissinfo with agencies
March 2003: Swiss parliament rejects an accord with Germany to reduce the number of flights to Zurich airport.
April 2003: German government unilaterally imposes flight restrictions.
2003: German administrative court rejects complaint by airport authorities and Swiss International Airlines, but the case is referred to Germany's Federal Administrative Court in 2005.
2006: German administrative court throws out eight complaints by Swiss local authorities and citizens.
The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg is to rule on the Swiss case later this year.
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