Impact of NATO exercise on Zurich Airport


NATO is conducting a large-scale air force exercise named "Air Defender" from 12-23 June 2023. For this purpose, "restricted areas" will be set up in Germany, which will also have an impact on flight operations at Zurich Airport.

For the largest exercise to date in NATO's history, involving more than 200 military aircraft from 25 nations, three exercise airspaces will be set up in German airspace, each of which will be closed to civilian air traffic for several hours a day on a rotating basis. The airspace closures will take place from Monday to Friday during the exercise period and will be spread sequentially throughout the day. The NATO exercise will lead to traffic congestion and flight detour and thus to capacity bottlenecks in Europe in general. At the same time, the number of delayed flights will also increase in Zurich due to the need to fly around the exercise areas.

In order to be able to absorb the delays, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) has agreed to allow Flughafen Zürich AG to issue exceptional permits for take-offs and landings up to 00:30 at the latest, provided that the respective delay is attributable to the NATO exercise “Air Defender”.

The extent to which Zurich Airport is actually affected by the exercise is difficult to estimate at present. Passengers will be informed by their airlines of any changes to flight times.