AERIA+ regrets the suspension of the adoption of the new airport operating rules and wonders if it is not a self-defeating act
9 May, 2023

An appeal has been lodged against the modification of the operating regulations for Geneva International Airport, which were approved by the Swiss government. These modifications are designed to allow the airport to adapt to the evolution of its activity while putting in place an innovative quota system to reduce nuisances.


On November 25, 2022, the Federal Department of Transport (DETEC) approved the ” Sectoral plan for aeronautical infrastructure (PSIA)” submitted by Geneva International Airport (AIG) in 2019. This decision is the culmination of a transparent process started in 2013 between the competent federal and cantonal services and the airport operator.


The approval of these new operating regulations is a fundamental step for the evolution of Geneva International Airport. It provides in particular a new permissible noise curve as well as the introduction of an innovative quota system for delayed night-time movements.


However, an appeal against this new regulation was lodged with the Federal Administrative Court on January 10, 2023 by CARPE[1], supported by ATCR[2] and ARAG[3]. The FOCA decision[4] contains measures that take into account the expectations of local residents with the introduction of a quota system to limit noise exposure during sensitive hours.


Once the quotas are reached, the companies will have to pay a progressive tax that will be a strong dissuasive factor. As a result of these appeals, the decision has been suspended and the implementation of the new measures is delayed, leading to a status quo situation for departures after 22:00 and suggests a self-defeat on the part of those advocating noise reduction.


The new 2022 permissible noise curve, established in 2017 on the basis of projections, would have allowed the noise register to be updated to reflect the evolution of the airport’s activity. Although the impact of the COVID-19 crisis was not taken into account in the development of this new curve, the rapid recovery of the sector indicates that the noise exposure retained in the “post-PSIA file” remains valid. It is indeed likely that the COVID-19 crisis will only have shifted the evolution of air traffic in Geneva by a few years.


It should be remembered that the adoption of this new noise curve and the updating of the register makes it possible above all to take into account the real situation in the construction procedures. In the end, this allows the population to be protected by avoiding the construction of housing in areas subject to significant nuisance. It is therefore obvious that the real-estate sectors and the municipalities that are opposed to this update are only thinking in the short term. Indeed, the inhabitants who would move into new housing subject to significant nuisance would probably demand new restrictive measures against the airport activity.


It should also be considered that the figure of 25 million passengers per year in 2030 is the forecast adopted by the Confederation several years ago and is not an objective pursued by Geneva Airport. Furthermore, the airport is actively committed to achieving carbon neutrality of its activities in 2037, notably through the installation last October of the third largest photovoltaic power plant in the canton on the roof of the East Wing.


In any case, although aviation is governed by federal law, the adoption in 2022 of the new Geneva International Airport Act (LAIG) allows the canton to be involved in the evolution of the airport platform through an agreement of objectives renewable every five years.


Finally, AERIA+ would like to emphasize that the airport’s mission is first and foremost to meet the region’s demand and that this infrastructure plays a fundamental role for the regional economy by generating 4.1 billion francs of added value and 33,600 direct, indirect and induced jobs. The new operating regulations, now unfortunately suspended, allowed us to adapt to the evolution of the airport platform and to control its activity in order to reconcile it with environmental issues.

[1] Regional coordination for an urban airport that respects the population and the environment

[2] Cross-border association of municipalities bordering the airport

[3] Airport Neighbors Association

[4] Federal Office of Civil Aviation

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