Treaty with Germany
On 2 July 2012, Swiss Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard presented the new treaty with Germany. It's an important step forward to end the long-running dispute with Germany over aircraft noise.
The treaty represents a compromise: despite the further curtailment of approach routes from the north, which will rule out our ideal operating concept, we have gained one major advantage – Germany has dropped its threatened restriction on the number of flights using the northern approach routes, which consequently opens the door to moderate growth.
Moreover, runway extensions will enable us to minimise capacity restrictions. Flughafen Zürich AG is therefore in favour of the ratification of this new treaty and welcomes the positive decision reached by Swiss Parliament, but wants the necessary runway extensions to go ahead for operational reasons.
Read more: „Principles of the treaty with Germany“ (German)
Dispute with Germany over aircraft noise
Since the mid 70s, municipalities in southern Germany have been campaigning for a reduction in the number of approaches in 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 Federal Assembly and the German Federal Council who envisaged an immediate reduction in approach routes from the north from 150,000 to max. 100,000. Germany responded with a unilateral implementing regulation which introduced stringent flight restrictions, dramatically reducing the number of approaches though 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: 08:00 p.m. – 09.00 a.m.
The basic intentions of the German implementing regulation still apply today.
In January 2012, following several failed attempts to reach an agreement on a new treaty, Swiss Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard and German Transport Minister Peter Raumsauer agreed on the details of a new treaty in Davos.
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.