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Swiss look to limit damage over aviation deal

Germany is set to impose more flight restrictions in July


The Swiss transport minister, Moritz Leuenberger, is meeting his German counterpart, Manfred Stolpe, in a bid to defuse an escalating aviation row.

Switzerland wants Germany to lift limits on flights over its territory into Zurich airport and to scrap extra restrictions due to come into force next month.

The two ministers will issue a statement in Bonn on Thursday after their two-day meeting.

The measures, which came into force on April 17, ban flights over part of southern Germany between 9pm and 7am. They reduce the number of flights passing over this area by 80,000 a year.

The restrictions follow the Swiss government’s refusal in March to ratify an aviation deal with Germany.

Meanwhile, Berlin is set to impose more flight restrictions on July 10.

These new measures state that “out of hours” flights will only be granted permission to land from the north in poor visibility.

As a result flights could be forced to redirect to Basel or Geneva.

Legal challenge

Switzerland has taken its complaint to the European Commission and has mounted a separate legal challenge in Germany.

Leuenberger negotiated the original deal in October 2001 with his then German counterpart, Kurt Bodewig.

Both sides agreed to cut by a third the number of flights permitted to fly over Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany before landing in Zurich - less than 20 kilometres from the German border.

There was also a ban on night and weekend flights.

Although the agreement was heralded as a way of reducing noise pollution in southern Germany, Leuenberger came under fire at home for giving too much away.

The Swiss Business Federation, the national carrier Swiss, the Zurich cantonal government and the operators of Zurich airport all opposed the deal, saying it discriminated against Switzerland and did not conform to European regulations.

They have called for negotiations to start again from scratch.

swissinfo, Vincent Landon

Key facts

Swiss and German transport ministers meet to discuss aviation row.
Bern wants Berlin to revise flight restrictions into and out of Zurich airport.
Berlin imposed limits after Swiss government refused to ratify an aviation deal in March.
Germany is set to impose more flight restrictions on July 10.

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