The Swiss Parliament has approved a CHF 150 million contribution to the equity capital of country’s air navigation service provider, skyguide.
The company said the money will ensure that it “remains financially stable and can perform its sovereign duties”. In return, the Federal Council and Parliament expect to see saving measures implemented, as well as an increase in the retirement age of air traffic controllers from today’s 56 to at least 60 years to ease skyguide’s long-term financial burden.
In the wake of the corona crisis, skyguide says that since March air traffic has fallen by up to 95% compared to the same period last year and notes that its income “has therefore subsequently collapsed to an unprecedented low”.
More than 80% of skyguide’s income is derived from the fees which airlines pay for landing and overflight services. However, despite the cost-saving measures taken, skyguide says the financial reserves of the company’s non-profit, federally funded operations “will be exhausted in the current year”.
Without skyguide, neither civil, police or military air traffic is possible within Switzerland, making it a vital national asset.
To counter the massive decline in income, skyguide has already adopted a savings plan which involved such moves as cutting variable salary components for 2020 by a quarter, converting variable salary components into annual leave and freezing wages. It has also cut-back its project portfolio, continuing with just those that are relevant to safety or efficiency.
In return for the capital injection, the Federal Council has said it expects skyguide to reduce its expenses by some CHF 90 to 100 million by 2024.
Alex Bristol, CEO of skyguide, said: “The current operational and financial challenge is unprecedented in the history of aviation. But today’s decision makes me feel confident.”