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Swiss to appeal EU ruling over flight ban

Swiss is suffering because Zurich airport is its hub Keystone

Switzerland is to appeal against a European Union ruling that restrictions imposed by Germany on flights into Zurich airport are not discriminatory.

This content was published on December 15, 2003 - 12:42

The government confirmed on Monday it would take its case to the European Court of Justice, arguing that the restrictions violate an aviation accord between Switzerland and Germany.

Swiss complaints about German flight restrictions into Zurich airport had fallen on deaf ears in Brussels.

Two weeks ago, the EU rejected Switzerland’s request to overturn the restrictions, saying they were neither discriminatory nor disproportionate.

The European Commission said they did not violate an aviation accord between Switzerland and the EU, as the Swiss government claims.

The measures were imposed unilaterally by Germany and effectively ban night flights into Zurich by the northern approach.

The Commission added that the German rules applied to all airlines using Zurich airport and did not discriminate against Swiss carriers - even though the national airline, Swiss, is worst affected, since Zurich is its hub.

Zurich airport lies just 15 kilometres from the German border and most flights approach from the north over German territory.

Justified

The EU said the noise reduction measures were justified based on complaints from German residents living near the flight path. Aircraft noise has been a cause for dispute between the two countries since a new runway was built to take incoming flights from the north in 1976.

Since the restrictions were imposed in October, early morning and night flights into Zurich airport have been using a new southern approach, which lies over some of the Swiss city’s most affluent suburbs.

Infuriated residents have staged several demonstrations in protest at having to endure flights every three minutes between 6am and 7am during the week, and 6am and 9am at the weekend. Property prices near the flight path are expected to plummet by as much as 40 per cent.

Failed

The Swiss parliament in March threw out a controversial deal on flight restrictions brokered between Bern and Berlin, because it felt that Switzerland had failed to secure a good enough deal.

Parliament’s decision prompted Germany to impose tougher restrictions than those envisaged in the accord.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Switzerland is to take its appeal against German flight restrictions into Zurich airport to the European Court of Justice.

An earlier appeal was rejected by the European Commission.

The restrictions were imposed unilaterally by Germany and effectively ban night flights into Zurich by the northern approach.

Zurich airport lies just 15 kilometres from the German border.

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