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Switzerland and Germany fail to end air traffic dispute

The cause of the dispute: An airliner over southern Germany on its way to Kloten airport Keystone

Swiss and German negotiators failed on Tuesday to resolve a dispute over airline flights to and from the country's biggest airport, Zurich's Kloten. Officials said the two sides were still far apart but would meet again in October.

This content was published on September 26, 2000 - 16:48

The negotiators, meeting in Berne, were trying to reach a new agreement which would ease German fears over the number of flights passing over southern Germany, and which would avoid a confrontation with Swiss people living under flight paths near Kloten.

The director of the Swiss Department for Civil Aviation, André Auer, described German demands as unacceptable. "We rejected German proposals because they would be too stringent for the development of Zurich airport as an international hub," he said.

In an attempt to cut down air traffic over southern Germany, the German authorities have said they will not accept more than 80,000 overflights per year, with an extended night-time flight ban between 2100 and 0700.

However, Swiss officials said there was no agreement on the night-flying issue.

"Concerning flights during the night, we would like to treat the southern part of Germany like we treat people living around the airport at Zurich, that means to have a solution which is non-discriminatory," Auer told swissinfo.

The head of the German delegation, Hans-Jürgen Froböse, said Switzerland had showed some flexibility over allowing planes to use an air corridor south of Kloten airport.

However, any such move is likely to anger some of the canton's richest citizens who live along Lake Zurich, in an area known as the Gold Coast.

The newly-privatised Kloten airport is in the process of expansion. People living around the airport have already protested about noise levels and the possible increase in flights.

The two countries have been preparing a new agreement since the end of 1998. In May, Germany unilaterally ended the current accord, but it will not formally be terminated until the end of May next year.

The next round of talks is due to take place in Waldshut, Germany, on October 26.

swissinfo with agencies



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