Skyguide is responsible for most Swiss airspace which corresponds to the national land and water borders. The area of responsibility also includes adjacent airspace in France, Germany, Italy and Austria. Over 40% of all the flights we handle are in these adjacent airspace. In return, traffic in parts of southern Switzerland is assigned to Italy’s air navigation service provider, and EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse is handled by our French partner. These assignments have practical reasons. The constant rise of traffic volumes has resulted in a significant increase in international collaboration in air traffic management. The airspace we manage fully complies with the single European sky philosophy, and with the associated creation of so-called functional airspace blocks instead of national ones.
A Flight Information Region (FIR) is the airspace area in which an air navigation service provider will provide information and search-and-rescue services for those flights of which it is aware. Skyguide is responsible for the FIR Switzerland. This region corresponds not entirely to the national border of Switzerland either. It includes also small parts of Souther Germany and Lichtenstein, and it excludes the shouthern part of the Tessin. The FIR borders are also used by Eurocontrol to calculate air navigation serviceds charges.
Several parameters define the complexity of an airspace. Besides the sheer traffic density, horizontal crossings and the vertical flight profiles of the controlled flights add to the demand of the task. Well over a third of all the flights which we manage are descending to or climbing from airports around Switzerland. Air traffic to and from Switzerland's airports is similarly demanding. All in all, more than 70% of the flights we handle require increased coordination. As a result, Switzerland's air navigation services are responsible for managing and monitoring the most complex airspace in Europe.
Any flight which is operated under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) is controlled by ATC. We are also responsible for managing and monitoring traffic flying under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) in the airspace controlled by skyguide, and we coordinate military air traffic in Swiss military airspace as well as in cross-border areas.