Heavy snow causes problems for Geneva airport, roads and rails

Geneva's Cointrin airport was closed early on Thursday morning because of heavy snow with airport authorities advising passengers not to travel to the facility.

Heavy snow causes problems for Geneva airport, roads and rails
Snow in Lausanne on Thursday. Photo: The Local

The airport said on Twitter that the facility had been closed until further notice because of adverse weather conditions.

However by 9am the airport announced the first scheduled flights were expected to take off at 11am, with the first incoming planes landing at midday. 

Airline traffic at Zurich airport did not appear to be weather-affected on Thursday morning although minor delays were reported.

The heavy snow also affected roads and rails. 

Federal rail operator SBB announced delays and restrictions on many rail routes due to the snow, with issues between Lausanne and Geneva, around Bern, Vallorbe in Vaud and Stabio in the canton of Ticino. 

Neuchâtel station was also partially closed due to the snow. 

On the roads, many accidents and tailbacks were reported, particularly in the cantons of Valais and Vaud, with police warning drivers to take care.






Geneva Airport schedules tentative take-off for mid-June

Geneva Airport said Thursday it would restart regular passenger services on June 15th, although with a much-reduced schedule and new measures in place to protect against COVID-19.

Geneva Airport schedules tentative take-off for mid-June
Still empty, Geneva's international airport will resume part of its regular operations on June 15th. Photo by AFP

Geneva is Switzerland's second-busiest airport after Zurich and serves a city which is home to the United Nations's European headquarters and a vast array of international organisations.

The Swiss government said this week that it has the new coronavirus under control and will lift most of its remaining lockdown restrictions on June 6th.

Flag carrier Swiss Air Lines and British no-frills carrier easyJet will resume services from Geneva on June 15th — but to a fraction of their former destinations.

 “What's really important for us is to offer an environment … which gives people confidence to fly again and also ensures protection for the staff and the passengers,” the airport's chief executive Andre Schneider told a press conference.

Wearing masks inside the airport will be strongly recommended, though not mandatory.

Hand gel stations have been introduced while plastic screens have been installed at check-in counters to protect staff.

Passengers will present their boarding cards and passports without making contact, and will scan their own boarding passes to access departure gates and planes.

Floor markers have been laid down to remind people to keep two metres apart wherever possible.

Posters and loudspeaker messages will remind passengers of the new instructions. 

Gradual resumption 

Normally, Geneva Airport services around 150 destinations with 50 airlines, transporting 17.9 million passengers in 2019.

Swiss, which belongs to German carrier Lufthansa, said it would restart with at least percent of its flights from Geneva and hoped to get 60 percent back up and running by the end of the year.

READ MORE: Coronavirus TRAVEL: What can passengers expect at Swiss airports and on planes? 

Regional managing director Lorenzo Stoll said that for the first fortnight, Swiss would offer 44 flights a week to and from 14 European destinations, including 12 to Frankfurt, seven to London, four to Porto and three each to Lisbon and Athens.

EasyJet said it would initially resume with seven flights a week to Porto, five to Nantes, four each to Lisbon and Bordeaux and three to Brindisi.

“Demand will inevitably be the driver” as to which services are reinstated first, said easyJet Switzerland director Jean-Marc Thevenaz.

All check-in procedures will be done online, with boarding passes downloaded — while masks will be mandatory on easyJet flights.

Both easyJet and Swiss stressed that the air filtration system on board meant that the air inside the cabin was replaced every three minutes, with 99.97 percent of airborne contaminants filtered out.

Thevenaz said that despite the close proximity to other passengers, “you can breathe better air on an aircraft than outside”, while Stoll said it was comparable to the air quality in an operating theatre.