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Study warns against flight limits at Zurich

Flight movements in and out of Zurich have decreased significantly since 2001 Keystone

Setting a limit on the number of flight movements in and out of Zurich airport would weaken the city’s economy, according to a study published on Thursday.

This content was published on June 23, 2005 - 19:23

The study, commissioned by Zurich’s cantonal parliament, also finds that such a move would prevent the creation of new jobs.

In the two years following the grounding of Swissair in 2001, 6,300 full-time and 2,000 part-time jobs were lost at Zurich’s Kloten airport.

The number of flight movements dropped from 325,000 in the record year of 2000 to about 266,000 at present.

Despite the reduction, which has been caused by the crisis in the aviation sector, there are many voices demanding a ceiling to the number of take-offs and landings at Kloten to reduce noise pollution.

A people’s initiative presented last year calls for a limit of 250,000 flight movements per year. A majority in the cantonal parliament would like to set the limit at 320,000.

No ceiling

The current regulation foresees no ceiling, indicating only that Kloten has a capacity of 350,000 flight movements per year.

The head of Zurich’s economics department, Rita Fuhrer, told journalists that the study was not made to cause fear but to help make a political decision with all the relevant facts.

Up to now, the Zurich government has been against setting a ceiling.

The authors of the study believe that Kloten will in future see a growth in flight movements of 2.5 per cent per year.

If they are correct, that would mean the maximum capacity of 350,000 movements would be reached in 2020.

Economic factor

The amount of money generated by the airport would rise from SFr13.5 billion ($10.55 billion) to SFr20 billion per year.

The number of direct and indirect jobs created by Kloten would rise from 93,000 to 150,000, according to the study.

A ceiling of 320,000 flight movements per year will be reached in 2015. In 2020 this would entail a loss of revenues of 11 per cent of the expected SFr20 billion in 2020 if there were no limit and the aviation sector picks up.

A limit of 250,000 movements would mean flights having to be reduced already.

One of the authors of the study, Markus Maibach, said that if the Zurich hub were to disappear, Zurich’s economy would be confronted with a sudden structural change that would be difficult to digest.

But he added that the study did not take into account the ability of the economy to react to change. For example, after the disappearance of Swissair, it was able to absorb some of the job losses.

Reaction

In a reaction, an organisation of residents living near the airport and critical of the noise pollution said that that the study was an alibi and did not take into the demands of the population.

According to the cantonal section of the Social Democratic Party, it did not take into account the quality of life, which was an important criterion for future planning.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

A people’s initiative handed in last year calls for a ceiling of 250,000 flight movements.
A majority in the Zurich parliament wants a ceiling of 320,000 movements (the capacity is 350,000)
At present, Kloten registers 266,000 movements per year.

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