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Aviation industry demands action to get planes back in the air

The aviation industry has been virtually grounded by Covid for a year. © Keystone/ Valentin Flauraud

Business, tourism and trade union leaders have put forward an action plan to get Swiss air transport back in action as the coronavirus pandemic drags on.

The “Back in the Air” plan was presented to Swiss President Guy Parmelin at Zurich airport on Thursday. Zurich Economics Minister Carmen Walker Späh said the airport is the “Suez Canal of Switzerland”, referring to the crucial waterway that was recently blocked for several days by a shipping accident.

On Friday, the Swiss Business Federation (economiesuisse), the Swiss Employer’s Association and union representatives presented the three-pronged strategy in greater detail.

It calls for the urgent implementation of a digital vaccination passport to allow people to travel, quarantine requirements to be lifted for incoming passengers with a negative Covid test and for travel restrictions to be eased between Switzerland and countries with the same infection rate.

“Cantons, businesses, social partners and the government still have a lot of work to do,” said Parmelin on Thursday. “We can only find a path by working together.”

Air transport generates more than CHF24 billion ($26 billion) of economic value to Switzerland each year and supports in excess of 138,000 jobs. In addition, many industry sectors rely on air traffic for their business.

Last year, parliament approved nearly CHF2 billion in emergency state credit to prop up the ailing aviation sector.

According to figures from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the number of passengers at Swiss airports fell by three quarters last year.

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