The row between Switzerland and Germany over the number of Swiss flights permitted to cross southern Germany is set to escalate, according to a report in the "SonntagsZeitung" newspaper. The paper quoted the federal transport ministry in Berlin as saying that pilots overflying German territory after June 1 could face fines.
On that date Germany is expected to introduce a decree replacing an earlier agreement with Switzerland, which in recent years has permitted up to 140,000 flights annually over southern Germany. Under the new legislation, the limit for Swiss flights will be reduced to 80,000 a year.
Germany announced last May that it was ending the agreement, which dated from 1984, because of the "overuse of German airspace". Germany is concerned about noise pollution for residents of the Baden area caused by planes flying into Zurich airport.
"We are serious about this," ministry spokesman, Michael Zirpel, told "SonntagsZeitung", without specifying what level of fines pilots, and airlines, breaking the rules could expect.
Under the new rules, Swiss pilots will also face an extended nighttime flight ban and a general ban on overflying southern Germany at weekends.
According to the paper, Germany decided on this unilateral action because of the deadlock in talks with Switzerland on reaching a new agreement.
The decision has left Swiss officials up in arms. "These demands are not acceptable," Hans Aebersold of the Swiss federal office for civilian aviation told "SonntagsZeitung".
The director of Zurich Airport, Josef Felder, said the situation was "extremely unfortunate". "Sanctions would be very damaging for both countries," he added.
Swiss hopes for a resolution of the aviation crisis now rest with the transport minister, Moritz Leuenberger, the paper said. It quoted Leuenberger's ministry as saying he would meet his German counterpart "in the next few weeks" to try to hammer out an acceptable deal.