A malfunction in the Skyguide air traffic controller prevented planes from landing or taking off at Geneva and Zurich airports this morning. As a security measure, all Swiss airspace was closed off by the company that provides aircraft routes across the country. The incident has now been resolved, with the reopening of airspace at 8:30 am.
Read too: The Skyguide malfunction is linked to a hardware failure that already raises a lot of questions
According to the first elements, the malfunction would be linked to the failure of a computer component in Geneva, but not to a software problem, nor to an attack. In 2019 and 2022, the company experienced several incidents related to the relocation of part of its IT management services to Bulgaria and problems encountered with its partner.
several hours of inactivity
At around 9 am, Genève Aéroport indicated on Twitter a gradual recovery in traffic. However, several routes were cancelled. To find out more about the status of their flight, passengers are advised to contact their airline. By 9:30 am, the airport lounge was still crowded. About 2,000 passengers on the first wave of flights, which starts at 6am, were waiting to board more than three hours late.
Zurich airport remained open during the interruption, passengers were able to check in, but boardings were interrupted. Flughafen Zürich tweeted that flight operations were resuming at reduced capacity. By 9:30 am, only half of the flights will be operated and then flight operations are scheduled at 75% capacity. Since 10 am, the airport has resumed operation at full capacity, but delays are expected throughout the day.
Update 2: Flight operations at Zurich airport are working again. Flight operations are scheduled at 50% unattended capacity… https://t.co/Sacys4QVoT
— zrh_airport (@Zurich Airport)January 15, 2022
Basel-Mulhouse EuroAirport was not directly affected by the damage, although some flights were diverted to this airport. Few flights scheduled for early morning managed to take off from Basel-Mulhouse or land there, the airport told Keystone-ATS. At Bern-Belp airport, regular flights were not possible, unlike private planes that can fly on sight. Fortunately, no scheduled flights were scheduled for Wednesday morning to or from the federal capital, said airport chief Urs Ryf.
To find out the status of flights on a case-by-case basis, Geneva and Zurich airports advised passengers to contact their airline. Several Swiss long-haul flights were diverted “to various airports in neighboring countries, including Milan, Lyon and Vienna”, while short-haul flights were unable to take off until the disruption was resolved. A total of 30 short-haul flights to and from Geneva and Zurich were canceled by the company.
Incoming long-haul flights are being diverted to various airports in neighboring countries, including… https://t.co/foRzTOIcU4
— FlySWISS (@Swiss Intl Air Lines)January 15, 2022
These cancellations affected 6,400 passengers for whom Swiss indicates it is seeking solutions that could take the form of “rebooking modification”, according to a spokesperson for the air carrier. “Most of the hijacked planes left for Zurich,” he adds. Swiss anticipates interruptions throughout the day and invites passengers to find out about the conditions of its flights on its website.
In turn, EasyJet had to cancel 24 flights to and from Switzerland, where the company operates in Geneva, Basel and Zurich. It also expects interruptions throughout the day and, like Swiss, returns passengers to their location. “All customers affected by cancellations are eligible for a refund, voucher or free transfer to a new flight.”
Several hijacked planes
“On a day like this, there are between 300 and 350 movements, so this collapse will cause major disruptions,” specifies Ignace Jeannerat, a spokesperson for Genève Aéroport. Companies are doing their best to warn their customers, but there will certainly be problems at the airport.
In Geneva, a first United Airlines flight from Newark (United States) to Geneva was diverted to Paris, and two other planes, one from New York and the other from Israel, were already in the air at the time the breakdown was announced, and were to be routed. to neighboring airports. Finally, these two flights arrived in Geneva after the meltdown was resolved. According to the diary 20 minutes, four Swiss airline flights from Johannesburg, Dubai, Chicago and Montreal that were supposed to land at Kloten were diverted to Basel and Milan.
Passengers who face their problems with patience
Around Cointrin Airport, the atmosphere is relatively calm. Nothing shows the tension that reigns at the level of the matches. From one end of the aisle to the other, passengers wander, bags in hand, in search of information. In front of glowing screens, the verdict falls to some vacationers: flight cancelled.
This is the case of Benoît Granges, a 49-year-old father from Fribourg, who would spend the weekend in Naples with his wife, their two children and a couple of friends. The entire team got up at 5am to catch the train to Geneva and then to Cointrin airport. The children also got an exemption for missing 3 days of school.
Bad luck, the EasyJet flight they were supposed to take is one of the collateral victims of the Sykguide collapse. While his wife has gone off in search of information, Benoît Granges tries to stay positive: “I hope we find a way out,” he breathes, as his children spend time playing cards.
Beside them, a pile of suitcases, symbols of the long-awaited escape. Meanwhile, Benoît Granges is considering changing the way he travels. “Next time, we’ll take the train to Europe or stay in Switzerland. This isn’t the first time problems with EasyJet have occurred. The ticket is not expensive, but then it is the cross and the banner to be reimbursed. Behind the day’s collapse, the father of the family may have learned a lesson.
In a corner of the hallway, a group of about thirty French retirees gather, suitcase in hand. They were supposed to go to Brindisi for 8 days, but their EasyJet flight was cancelled. Glued to the phone, guide Evelyne, from the Philibert de Lyon travel agency, tries to reassure them and philosophizes: “There is a solution for every problem”. While most travelers remain calm, some become impatient. “It’s painful to start a vacation like this, especially since you don’t know how long it’s going to last.” From one end of the group to the other, plans for the comet are being built: go down to Brindisi by bus or even change destination.