Treaty with Germany
The treaty negotiated between Germany and Switzerland in 2012 aims at settling the long-running conflict with Germany over aircraft noise at Zurich Airport with a compromise solution. Approval from Germany is still pending.
Dispute with Germany over aircraft noise
Since the mid-70s, municipalities in southern Germany have been campaigning for a reduction in approaches to Zurich Airport through South German airspace. An administrative agreement on approach methods in 1984 failed to resolve the problems. Years of negotiations resulted in a treaty restricting the number of approaches over southern Germany and the delegation of air traffic control and compensation matters to Switzerland.
In March 2003, the treaty was rejected by the Swiss Federal Assembly and the German Federal Council. The treaty envisaged an immediate reduction of the number of approaches from 150,000 to a maximum of 100,000. Germany responded to Switzerland’s rejection with a unilateral implementing regulation (DVO), which introduced strict curfew periods, dramatically reducing approaches through South German airspace, particularly in the mornings, evenings and at weekends:
Monday – Friday: 09:00 p.m. – 07:00 a.m.
Weekends and bank holidays in Baden-Württemberg: 08:00 p.m. – 09.00 a.m.
The German implementing regulation is still in force.
After several attempts at a new treaty failed, the former Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard and the then Federal Minister of Transport Peter Ramsauer reached agreement in Davos in January 2012 on the drafting of a new treaty.
Treaty signed in 2012
Following six months of negotiations, the new treaty was initialled on 2 July 2012 and signed by both transport ministers on 4 September 2012. Unlike the first treaty, this new agreement is not based on a quantitative restriction but instead focuses on the German implementing regulation and governs the number of approaches from the north in a given time period. As a result, Zurich Airport has retained a certain capacity for development and Germany is helping to support the expected moderate growth. The current agreement is therefore a classic compromise. Germany has secured more quiet time while Switzerland has achieved long-term legal security and avoided a complete cap on approaches from the north.
The Swiss Federal Parliament approved the State Treaty in June 2013. Germany, however, unilaterally suspended treatment of the treaty, which is why it has not yet come into force. Read more: „Principles of the treaty with Germany” (German).