In Switzerland, a rare closure of the airways due to computer failure – Liberation

Swiss airspace was completely closed for three hours on Wednesday. Blam it for a computer failure that affects the country’s air traffic control If traffic resumes at the end of the morning, the consequences will be felt for a few days.

Swiss airspace completely closed? Even during the war in Europe, the news would seem unreasonable because the country, famous for its political neutrality, never made such a decision. And yet, this is what the Swiss airports announced on Wednesday morning. And it was not a question of geopolitical considerations, but a question of a major computer failure that affected the company responsible for controlling the country’s air traffic. For three hours before the announcement of the full resumption of vehicles at 10 a.m., no flight took off or landed in the Alpine country.

“Due to system failure in SkyGuide, no take-off or landing is currently possible.” The message, posted on Zurich Airport’s Twitter account around 7 a.m. today, has upset many passengers. “We have a 10 o’clock flight, should we wait at home?” Asks a user. “I hope passengers will be compensated”, Worries others. But passenger and air traffic controllers were in the dark since morning. In question, the failure of a computer affected SkyGuide, the company that has exclusive control of air traffic control in Switzerland.

The Swiss skies were completely closed this morning due to security concerns. The Confederation banned any overflight, while planes already on the route were forced to divert their routes to third countries. According to the Swiss news agency ATS-Keystone, most of them were referred to northern Italy.

Difficulty getting information from the airport

Normally paused life at Swiss airports therefore seems to be delayed for a few hours. The Swiss airports in Geneva and Zurich were open and passengers were able to continue check-in, but boarding was closed. Many passengers complained of difficulty getting information from the airport, while the latter called for direct inquiries with their airlines. Meanwhile, the crowded entrance halls were constantly flooded with travelers. According to the daily TimeMore than 2,000 of them, in Geneva, have been waiting for the first wave of their departure since 6am.

A few hours later, SkyGuide announced that Airspace would reopen and switch on, without specifying the cause of the error. “SkyGuide has fixed a technical problem and at 8:30 am the airspace has been closed and the Swiss airspace has been reopened and flight operations to Switzerland as well as Geneva Airport and Zurich have resumed”, Wrote a tweet company. The first flight took off from British Airways, then took off at 9:30 a.m., soon followed by others. But according to Media RTS, the ballet is far from normal again: “Takeoff will be two to four hours late.” Thus traffic initially resumes at 50% of its capacity, which is 75% from the end of the morning and then before increasing to 100%. “Several flights have been canceled. Passengers are asked to check with their company if their flight has been maintained.So Geneva Airport tweeted after the connection was re-established.

An error that will continue to weigh

The technological catastrophe had a definite effect on aviation beyond the confederation’s borders. For good reason, Zurich Airport is one of the largest hubs in Europe, while the smaller Geneva Airport exceeds one million passengers per month. Every day, about 3,500 planes fly over the region. The economic consequences of this judgment may thus be felt. Thomas Harter, pilot and deputy of the Canton of Chefhausen, explains in his columns In the morning : “If the system does not work 100%, then it must be shut down. But it will cost millions of francs. ”

If the entire Swiss airspace is affected by the SkyGuide disruption, because the company, more than 99% owned by the Swiss Confederation, is responsible for all of the country. In 2019 and 2022 SkyGuide has already been identified for IT error Outsourcing of a portion of its IT management services is excluded in Bulgaria. But these previous incidents had no direct effect on air traffic and for the moment nothing indicates that this could be an explanatory reason for the error this Wednesday morning.

In a statement, the agency, which is celebrating 100 years of air traffic control in Switzerland this year, said it was “sorry” for the incident and “Consequences for its customers, partners and passengers at Geneva and Zurich airports.”However, it will take several days for traffic to return to normal and the planned flight program may still face some setbacks.

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