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TRAVEL NEWS

Delays, cancellations: How Switzerland will be hit by the Lufthansa strike

German airline Lufthansa is set to go on strike on Wednesday, with several routes to and from Switzerland to be impacted, particularly those taking off from Zurich. Here’s what you need to know.

Several flights to and from Switzerland will be impacted by the strike. (Photo by MICHAEL BUHOLZER / AFP)
Several flights to and from Switzerland will be impacted by the strike. (Photo by MICHAEL BUHOLZER / AFP)

strike on Wednesday by the ground crew of German airline Lufthansa, a codeshare partner and parent company of SWISS, will disrupt a dozen flights leaving from and scheduled to arrive in Switzerland.

Around 1,000 people are set to be directly impacted by the cancellations, Swiss airlines said on Tuesday afternoon. 

A total of 12 flights will be cancelled on the Zurich to Düsseldorf (three return flights) and Geneva to Frankfurt routes (also three return flights). Flights from Zurich to Munich will also be impacted.

As Frankfurt is a major connection hub for long-haul flights, SWISS recommends rebooking for another day.

“Swiss informs its passengers about the flight cancellations and asks them to look for possible alternatives”. 

“Should you still take your flight to Frankfurt or Munich without a confirmed alternative for the onward flight, there is a risk that you will not be able to continue your journey there for several hours or days ” SWISS said.

READ MORE : Airport chaos in Europe: Airlines cancel 15,000 flights in August

The strike action was announced for Wednesday, but unions have refused to rule out further strikes in the coming days. 

In total, around 1,000 flights will be cancelled, with 134,000 passengers impacted across Europe. 

Zurich airport particularly hard hit

While the impact of Covid saw the grounding of flights and a surge in the popularity of domestic travel, the world’s airports have roared back into life in 2022 – many to levels above the pandemic. 

As a result, airlines and airport authorities have struggled to keep up, with the consequence being cancelled flights, delays and lost luggage. 

The situation is particularly bad at Zurich Airport, which is Switzerland’s largest. 

Zurich Airport saw an increase of almost 250 percent compared to last year, while passenger levels are fast approaching the highs set before the pandemic. 

The following link provides an overview of the situation at Zurich Airport. 

Reader question: How bad is the situation at Zurich Airport?

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What happens if you overstay your 90-day limit in Switzerland?

If you are coming to Switzerland as a tourist, you can’t overstay your welcome. But rules differ depending on where you live.

What happens if you overstay your 90-day limit in Switzerland?

Switzerland’s tourism authorities are bending backwards to attract foreign visitors to visit the country.

This is evident from these two messages that the (retiring) tennis champ Roger Federer made with his famous friends:

The extent to which Switzerland depends on tourist revenue became clear during the Covid pandemic when borders closed and the hospitality sector slowed down to the point of almost shutting down completely.

However, this doesn’t mean that tourists can remain here for as long as they like.

These are the rules

Visitors (as opposed to permanent residents or others who have some kind of official status in Switzerland such as a long-stay visa), can only remain in the country for 90 days. 

It doesn’t matter whether the person visits from a Schengen nation or a third country, and whether they need a visa to enter Switzerland or not — the 90-day rule is the same for everyone.

There are, however, some differences, based on the person’s country of residence.

If you live in a EU / EFTA state and want to remain in Switzerland longer than three months, you must apply for a residence permit at the Population Registry Office in a given canton.

However, third-country nationals (eg Brits, Americans, Canadians) are not eligible to exceed their stay.

Whether they entered on a tourist visa, or without it — for instance, residents of the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, and Singapore don’t need a visa for Switzerland — they must leave the country within 90 days.

The 90-day rule states that you can stay 90 days out of every 180 – so in total you can spend six months in Switzerland, but not all in one go. It’s important to note that the 90-day limit applies to the whole of the Schengen zone; so time spent in eg France, Germany or Italy also counts towards your 90-day limit. 

These rules are in place not only in Switzerland but throughout Schengen and in other countries outside the EU as well; they are in place to prevent people from staying longer than allowed, and possibly seeking employment or welfare benefits.

What happens if you are caught overstaying your limit?

Swiss police don’t patrol the streets looking for foreigners who have been staying in the country for more than 90 days.

More often than not, these offenders come to the attention of authorities by chance: perhaps someone reports them, or they are ‘caught’ during a random identity check, or in other accidental ways, or your overstay could come to the attention of border police when they stamp your passport as you leave the country. 

The extent of punishment depends, again, on whether the offender comes from EU / EFTA or a third country, with penalties being stricter for the latter category.

According to the government, those fro EU / EFTA living in Switzerland “without permission must leave the country. If they do not voluntarily comply with this obligation to leave, they can be returned to their home country against their will and at their own expense”.

“A third-country national who stays for more than 90 days without a residence permit or a long-stay visa is overstaying and is therefore in an irregular situation. This can lead to a criminal prosecution and to an entry ban to the Schengen area”, which includes Switzerland.

READ MORE: UPDATE: What are the current rules for entering Switzerland?

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