SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

TRAVEL NEWS

UPDATE: What do Russia flight bans mean for international travel from Switzerland?

Russian airspace is closed to Swiss and European airlines. What does this mean for international travel?

Swiss airlines are no longer allowed to cross into Russian airspace. What does this mean for travel? Photo by Fabian Joy on Unsplash
Swiss airlines are no longer allowed to cross into Russian airspace. What does this mean for travel? Photo by Fabian Joy on Unsplash

Russia has closed its airspace to Swiss and European airlines until March 31st, as a response to a Swiss and EU ban on Russian flights. 

Swiss airlines announced a suspension of all Russia-bound flights until the end of March after the announcement was made. 

Prior to that, Swiss had flown from Zurich to Moscow five times per week, from Geneva to Moscow twice a week and from Geneva to St Petersburg once per week. 

The ban applies to both commercial and private jets and the only exception to the ban is for humanitarian, medical or diplomatic flights. 

Sanctions on Russia: Is Switzerland still a neutral nation?

What does the closure of Russian airspace mean for Swiss flights?

While the direct impact of Switzerland closing its airspace to Russian aircraft may be primarily symbolic, the closure of Russia’s sizeable airspace makes a significant impact for those on long-haul flights eastward. 

In addition to Russian airspace being closed, conflict has led to the closure of airspace in Ukraine, Belarus, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan. 

Flights from Switzerland to China and Japan are particularly impacted by delays, with the duration to be between one and three hours longer. 

“The result is longer flight times between Zurich and Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing,” a spokesperson for the airline told Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes. 

In addition to the longer distance, the flights are now more subject to further delays. 

For instance, a longer flight time can mean more weather-related delays, while the closure of Russian airspace looks set to lead to bottlenecks in certain areas, such as above Iran. 

Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes confirmed that airspaces in several countries are organised in an “old-fashioned way”, which means flights need to follow after each other rather than above each other, as takes place in other countries. 

Hansjörg Egger, a Swiss aviation expert, told news outlet Blick that bottlenecks lead to additional fuel usage. 

“The planes have to constantly change altitude in order to avoid one another. That needs more kerosene,” Egger said

Due to the longer flight distance, the planes will require more fuel, although Swiss said the costs would not be passed on to consumers. 

Egger told Blick that although closures of airspace are relatively normal for airlines, Russia’s breadth makes this closure significant. 

“It’s not just any country, it’s the largest country on earth with eleven time zones!,” he said. 

Where are flights not affected? 

Flights to south-east Asia are not subject to delays at this point, as they do not normally fly over Russian airspace. 

Swiss tabloid Blick reports that flights to Singapore and Thailand, for instance, are not subject to delays at this stage. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

TRAVEL NEWS

The Covid rules you should know if you’re travelling from Switzerland this summer

When it comes to Covid regulations in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe, the situation is certainly much more relaxed than it was last summer. However, certain countries still maintain rules in regards to vaccinations and masks.

The Covid rules you should know if you're travelling from Switzerland this summer

Months ago, health experts predicted that coronavirus will not be circulating extensively during the summer months and won’t strike us again before the weather turns cold in the fall / winter.

But as it turns out, these forecasts were wrong, as Omicron and its highly contagious sub-variants keep infecting increasing numbers of people across Europe.

In Switzerland, the number of reported contaminations has risen from under 10,000 a week in May to 33,108 registered in a span of seven days on June 28, with officials expecting an explosion in cases as summer progresses.

READ MORE: ‘Over a million people’ in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

What does this mean for international travel?

As of right now (and the situation could change in coming weeks), Switzerland doesn’t require either testing or proof of vaccination upon entry. This is also the situation in many other countries in Europe as well as farther afield.

However, some popular European tourist destinations still (or again) have Covid-related entry regulations in place, as well as rules inside the country.

This is an overview of the places where people who live in Switzerland like to spend their summer holidays:

France

Entry requirements:

For vaccinated persons, full vaccination for at least one week must be proven. The last dose must be less than nine months old. Cured people can travel a week after receiving a single dose.

For recovered people: the positive result of a PCR test more than 11 days old and less than six months.

For non-vaccinated persons: a negative PCR test dated less than 72 hours or an antigen test carried out less than 48 hours before departure. Children under 12 are exempt.

On-site measures:

Wearing a mask on public transport, which has not been required since May 16th, is once again strongly recommended — though not compulsory.

Italy

While proof of vaccination or negative test is not required to enter Italy, there are some mask requirements in place in the country.

From mid-June, Italian government extended the obligation to wear FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30th, except on planes. The surgical mask is also still compulsory from the age of six in health establishments.

Portugal

Proof of full vaccination for at least 14 days is required to enter, with the last dose no older than 270 days ago. Swiss Covid certificates should suffice.

For recovered people, proof of recovery dating from 11 to 180 days before arrival in Portugal is required.

The unvaccinated should have a negative PCR test dated less than 72 hours or an antigen test carried out less than 24 hours before departure.

Children under 12 are exempt from these requirements.

Also, all travellers must fill out a passenger locator card before departure, as well as a form required by the Portuguese health authorities before their departure or during the flight.

On-site measures:

Portugal decided on April 21st to end the obligation to wear a mask indoors. However, masks are still required on public transport, hospitals or retirement homes.

These are the regulation for mainland Portugal; those visiting Madeira, can see the rules in this link.

Spain

Since June 2nd, travellers from a Schengen area (which includes Switzerland) are no longer subject to any health checks upon arrival.

On-site measures:

Spain lifted the requirement to wear a mask indoors on April 20th. The mask is, however, still required from the age of six on public transport, in hospitals and retirement homes. Differences may exist between regions, so consult the websites of individual areas.

Austria

Since May 16th, travel restrictions have been lifted. Nevertheless, an FFP2 mask remains compulsory from the age of six for flights to and from the Vienna region.

On-site measures

FFP2 masks are mandatory from the age of 14 on public transport and in pharmacies in Vienna.

Germany

Since June 1st and until at least August 31st, entry restrictions to Germany have all been suspended.

On-site measures:

No vaccination or testing rules on entry, but restrictions remain in some federal states, so check local websites for more information.

Wearing a mask remains compulsory from the age of six on public transport and in medical establishments. To go to the hospital, an antigen test of less than 24 hours or PCR of less than 48 hours is required.

READ MORE: EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023

United Kingdom

There are no more Covid restrictions across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and arrivals no longer need to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before arriving in the UK.

United States

According to the US Embassy in Switzerland, “air travelers to the United States are no longer required to show a negative COVID-19 test result, or documentation of recovery from COVID-19, prior to boarding a flight to the United States”.

However, there are different requirements for different categories of travelers: “all non-U.S.-citizen, nonimmigrant (not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident, or traveling to the United States on an immigrant visa) airline passengers traveling to the United States, must demonstrate proof of vaccination prior to boarding a U.S. bound aircraft”.

If you want to find out what the latest requirements are at your destination, you can do so by checking out the websites of their embassies in Switzerland, or official tourist bodies for each country / region.

SHOW COMMENTS