Home News Science&Tech Skyguide failure: a major software glitch led to closed airports

Skyguide failure: a major software glitch led to closed airports

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A technical failure paralyzed Swiss Air Traffic Control Skyguide for hours. Therefore, the airspace over Switzerland had to be closed. Flights to and from Zurich and Geneva were cancelled or diverted.

On Wednesday, June 15, a technical failure occurred at Skyguide in the early morning hours. This had serious consequences: for security reasons, Swiss airspace had to be closed to traffic. Thus, there were no flights over Switzerland for hours.

At Zurich and Geneva airports, this meant that aircraft could not take off and land until 9:00 am. All flights to these Swiss airports were suspended until further notice. Long-haul flights that should have arrived in the morning have been diverted.

Planes from Etihad (coming from Abu Dhabi), Singapore Airlines (Singapore), Thai Airways (Bangkok) and United (Washington) with the destination Zurich were sent to Munich. A Swiss plane from Shanghai had to land in Vienna, and two flights from United (from Chicago and New York) landed in Frankfurt. On the way to Geneva, a Boeing 767 from New York was sent by United to Paris. The Basel / Mulhouse airport was not affected. Here, the French air traffic control took over the work.

Swiss, the most affected airline, said it diverted incoming long-haul flights to several nearby airports, including Lyon, Milan and Vienna. European flights were canceled. However, one tries “to find solutions as quickly as possible for the affected passengers in this challenging situation,” said the airline.

Skyguide did not give details about the type of failure, it is only known that it was a major IT failure. Finally, at 8.30 am, the positive news came: according to the Swiss air traffic control, the technical malfunction had been fixed. The airspace blockade was lifted.

The Airports of Geneva and Zurich then gradually resume their activities. Nevertheless, not everything is still going normally. In Zurich, for example, only about half of the flights took place until 9.30 am. The airport is steadily working towards its planned capacity.

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