Andrew Doyle/MUNICH

Zurich Airport has revealed plans to sharply increase surcharges against the noisiest categories of aircraft taking off or landing daily between the hours of 22:00 and 06:00.

The proposed move, detailed in a consultation paper, would be implemented from mid-2001 and would roughly double the charge levied every 30min after the 22:00 watershed for take-offs.

The noisiest aircraft, such as Boeing 747 Classics and unhushkitted 727s and 737-200s and McDonnell Douglas DC-9s, would incur a SFr4,000 ($2,300) charge for take-off after 23:00, compared to the current SFr1,000.

Under the proposals, aircraft hushkitted to meet Chapter 3 noise standards, plus MD-11s, MD-80s and DC-10-30s, would also be severely penalised. Swissair and its regional subsidiary Crossair operate substantial fleets of MD-11s and MD-80s, respectively.

Conversely the quietest aircraft such as Airbus A320s, Boeing Next Generation 737s and BAE Systems Avro RJs, which are currently exempt, would be liable for a SFr200 surcharge per take-off after 23:00.

A final decision on the new charge structure will be taken by the airport following consultations with airlines and local residents.

SAirGroup estimates the charges will cost it SFr2-4 million per year. Flights to Asia and South America will be most affected.

In a separate move the Swiss Government has banned take-offs from Zurich and Geneva airports by aircraft with a noise index greater than 96 for flights of less than 5,000km (2,700nm) between 22:00 and 06:00. The index is defined as the arithmetic mean of the aircraft's certificated fly-over and lateral noise emissions measured in equivalent perceived noise decibels.

This rule primarily prohibits flights by hushkitted 727s. Aircraft operating flights of more than 5,000km with an index greater than 98 will be prohibited from taking off between 22:00 and 06:00 from 31 March 2002.

Source: Flight International