Andrew Doyle/MUNICH

SAirGroup is warning that Swiss Government plans to increase aircraft noise penalties around Zurich and Geneva airports threaten its ability to compete effectively internationally.

The government is proposing that the two airports be forced to pay up to SFr1 billion ($658 million) over five years to compensate the owners of noise-blighted properties and to pay for soundproofing work. This could result in average ticket prices rising by SFr8 for all flights from Zurich and Geneva in this period as the airlines sought to recoup higher landing charges.

SAirGroup says the proposals "ignore Swissair's SFr1billion investment, undertaken over the last five years, in what are the lowest-noise aircraft available".

The proposals would assign blanket noise restrictions for the airport regions, which SAirGroup claims would increase permissible noise levels for some residential areas. They also "do not consider foreseeable technical developments in the area of noise abatement, such as Crossair's decision to replace its current fleet with new, quieter aircraft", it says.

Interested parties must respond to the consultation paper by mid-September. The legislation could come into effect early next year.

Zurich Airport, Swissair's main hub, plans to implement substantial increases in noise surcharges from next year. It has revised its ranking system of aircraft types to reflect the fact that average noise levels have fallen since the surcharges were introduced in 1991, resulting in higher charges for each category of aircraft.

Source: Flight International