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Sectoral Aviation Infrastructure Plan

Sectoral Aviation Infrastructure Plan (SAIP) at Zurich Airport

The Sectoral Aviation Infrastructure Plan is the long-term planning and coordination tool for the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA). The plan establishes Zurich Airport’s long-term operational and infrastructural framework.

Air picture of the airport

Zurich Airport’s adjusted SAIP (SAIP2) forms the basis for the approval of its operating regulations and for the authorisation of infrastructure systems. It is intended to provide legal and planning security for the region, for airport users and for the airport operator. In Flughafen Zürich AG’s view, the SAIP – which has been approved by the Federal Council – resolves a number of important current issues. However, it does not take account of long-term development opportunities for Zurich Airport.

Key questions and answers regarding SAIP 2

How happy is the airport operator with the revised SAIP for Zurich Airport that has been approved by the Federal Council?
The updated SAIP resolves some current operational issues and forms a basis in spatial planning terms on which a number of important additional measures emerging from the safety review can be implemented. That is something we welcome. However, it does not address the airport’s long-term development. As a planning instrument, the SAIP should actually present development opportunities for the next twenty years. In the LUPO, the Federal Council regards the limited infrastructure for scheduled and charter service as the biggest challenge of the future. Yet the SAIP presents no solutions as to how projected air traffic demand should be handled over the long term. That creates uncertainty among the population and makes it impossible for the airport operator to ensure high-quality flight operations over the long run.

Why did the SAIP for Zurich Airport need updating?
The SAIP needed updating in order to create the foundations for implementing additional measures from the 2012 safety review. These measures mainly include reducing complexity and thus increasing the margin of safety. In addition, mounting security requirements have resulted in step-by-step reductions in flight operation capacities over the past few years. The basic structure set out in the SAIP allows us to further increase the margin of security and to regain lost capacities, or at least return them to their original level.

What changes to the SAIP are planned?
The first adjustment of crucial importance to Zurich Airport is a change in the “Bise Wind” concept. The report from the 2012 safety review named the revision of the operating concept for instances of bise wind or fog as an important measure in improving safety. The most complex of the current concepts is that for bise wind situations, as the departure paths of aircraft taking off toward Kloten repeatedly cross the routes of any aircraft that might be performing a go-around. The southern take-offs foreseen in the SAIP for bise wind and fog are a welcome change for safe operation at Zurich Airport.

Equally welcome are the planned changes to optimise the North Concept: the fanning-out of western take-offs from runway 28 and the extended left turn after take-off on runway 16 will ensure safer flight operations while simultaneously reducing complexity and restoring part of the capacity lost in recent years.


Runway extensions are planned in the SAIP. Why?
Runway extensions are urgently needed to implement the state treaty, and operationally they make sense in any case. Under certain weather conditions, long-haul aircraft cannot currently land on our shortest runway (runway 28). An extension would create greater stability in the East Concept and thus reduce complexity. But ultimately it will be up to voters in the Canton of Zurich to decide on any runway extensions.

What happens now?
The SAIP creates a foundation for preparing an application to amend the operating regulations. According to the Airport Act, applications for amendments to the operating regulations which have a substantial impact on aircraft noise levels can only be submitted to the Confederation with the approval of the Zurich Government Council.

SAIP in a nutshell

In the following brief video (produced by Flughafen Zürich AG), the designated Chief Operations Officer of Flughafen Zürich AG, Stefan Tschudin, explains the key elements of SAIP2 and the measures it sets out.