Swiss airspace reopens after air traffic control malfunction

The Swiss shutdown is the latest example in a string of upheaval at airports and airlines that has disrupted travel across Europe in recent weeks. PHOTO: AFP

ZURICH (BLOOMBERG) Europe’s air travel chaos spread to Switzerland on Wednesday (June 15) after a technical malfunction at the country’s air traffic control system shut down flights nationwide and left thousands stranded across the continent. 

Swiss air space was reopened at 8.30am (2.30pm, Singapore time) allowing operations at Geneva and Zurich airports to resume, navigation service provider Skyguide said in a statement.

The Swiss shutdown is the latest example in a string of upheaval at airports and airlines that has disrupted travel across Europe in recent weeks.

Staffing shortages lingering from the Covid-19 pandemic have been at the heart of delays and cancellations at hubs in Britain and the Netherlands, with strikes in France and spate of IT outages adding to the chaos. 

Switzerland’s largest airport handles more than 300 departures a day, while Geneva has around 220, according to data from FlightRadar24.

Arriving long-haul flights were being diverted to airports in neighboring countries, including Lyon, Milan and Vienna.

Short-haul flights were not taking taking off.  Swiss International Airlines, a unit of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, stood to be worst affected, with the carrier saying on its Twitter feed that no arrivals or departures at Zurich and Geneva were possible, leading short-haul services to be suspended.

Although there is no indication at this point the shutdown was in any way related to a cyberattack, Switzerland has seen a surge in malicious actions from hackers in the past year.

The number of cyberattacks reported has reached 800 in recent weeks, compared with 300 a year earlier, data shows.

The Swiss National Cybersecurity Centre didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

 

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