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Transport ministry mulls legal action over flight ban

Moritz Leuenberger does not hide his anger at the collapse of the air accord.

(Keystone Archive)

The Swiss transport minister, Moritz Leuenberger, is considering taking legal action after Germany imposed restrictions on flights into and out of Zurich airport.

He hopes to take the complaint to the European Commission.

The restrictions follow the Swiss government's refusal last month to ratify an aviation deal with Germany. Germany retaliated by limiting flights over southern Germany, the main route into the airport.

The restrictions, which came into force on April 17, ban flights over the area between 9pm and 7am. As a result, the number of flights passing over the area will be reduced by 80,000 per year.

Leuenberger said he would do what he could to reduce the damage inflicted on Switzerland by Germany's actions. He believes he may have a case in the framework of European Union law.

"If the unilateral measures taken by Germany infringe European law, we can take [the case] before the Commission," he told the German-language newspaper, SonntagsBlick.

Switzerland is tied to European Union flight legislation by an air traffic accord.

More to come

Germany is due to impose more flight restrictions in July.

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.

The transport minister has not hidden his anger over the collapse of the air accord. He previously warned that Switzerland's refusal to sign the accord would bring about tougher restrictions.

"I feel bad for those who were in favour of the accord and who must now deal with the consequences of this obstinate refusal."

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Germany has limited the number of aircraft approaching Zurich airport over southern Germany, folllowing the collapse of an air accord between Germany and Switzerland.
From April 17, flights from the north will not be allowed between 9pm and 7am.
From July 10, Germany will no longer accept "technical exemptions" to the ban.
Flights into Zurich airport will be reduced by around 80,000 per year as a result.
The Swiss Transport Minister, Moritz Leuenberger, is now considering taking legal action against Germany's decision to impose the limitations.

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