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European air traffic agreement signed

The Federal Civil Aviation Office has signed a declaration of intent for Switzerland to take part in the implementation of the Single European Sky (SAS) accord.

Switzerland agreed to the pact earlier this week along with Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Together they account for around 55 per cent of all flights over Europe.

The Functional Airspace Block: Europe Central (Fabec), agreed to at a European civil aviation summit in Bordeaux, France, will organise airspace by air traffic patterns rather than according to national borders.

Authorities say it will increase safety, capacity and cost effectiveness while making for shorter routes and reducing the environmental impact of flights.

Over the past ten years, air traffic in Europe has risen by more than 50 per cent to close to 8.5 million flights per year. That translates into up to 28,000 flights in a day, according to the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation.

Swiss authorities say Fabec will allow them to handle the 50 per cent rise in air traffic forecasted for the next ten years without compromising safety or leading to more flight delays.

Implementation of the SAS accord is due to begin in 2012.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR