Civil air traffic control

Skyguide ensures a safe, fluid and cost-effective management of air traffic in Swiss airspace and in the adjacent airspace of neighbouring countries. Thus, it manages and monitors the upper airways (en-route services) and the lower airspace in Switzerland as well as taxiing manoeuvres, takeoffs and landings (tower and approach services).

Our en-route services ensure the safety and efficiency of traffic movements through the upper airways of Switzerland and parts of neighbouring France, Germany, Italy and Austria from 7,000 ft (2,100 m) to 66,000 ft (20 km).

The airspace that skyguide controls at the heart of Europe is the densest and most complex in the continent.

Located in the area control centers of Geneva and Dübendorf, our en-route air traffic controllers work around-the-clock. Skyguide is currently working to entirely harmonise both sites using the most up-to-date stripless working methods and technologies in a “common controller cockpit”.




Lower airspace Switzerland


From the area control centers of Geneva and Dübendorf, lower airspace air traffic controllers are responsible:

  • for approach control activities for St.Gallen-Altenrhein and Friedrichshafen as well as Les Eplatures and Sion.
  • for providing support in case of special activities such as parachuting, special flights (e.g. photo flights) and IFR joinings in airspace C. This airspace can only be entered by aircraft (mostly VFR) which communicate by radio, have a transponder, and have received clearance from air traffic control.


Through its flight information centers, skyguide also provides flight information services in the lower airspace categories G and E outside airport control zones and terminal areas.




Tower and approach services (TWR/APP)


Our tower (TWR) air traffic controllers monitor taxiing manoeuvres, takeoffs and landings and oversee traffic in the immediate vicinity of the airport, i.e. the control zone (CTR) of approximately 20 km around the airport. The tower air traffic controllers also integrate into the often dense traffic of an airport the small aircraft and helicopters flying according to visual flight rules (VFR).


Approach (APP) air traffic controllers manage the arriving and departing aircraft flying according to instrument flight rules (IFR) within a specific section of the control zone and terminal control area (TMA). This area usually extends up to a distance of around 60 km around the airport. Approach controllers manage on the one hand the traffic climbing to upper airspace airways, and on the other hand the descending traffic that leaves these airways towards the airport. In case of dense traffic, aircraft waiting to land can be directed into holding circuits (holdings).


Our TWR/APP air traffic controllers manage the traffic at Zurich and Geneva international airports, as well as at our regional airports and aerodromes.



Serving the regions


In the tower and in approach control of regional civil airports and aerodromes, our air traffic controllers monitor and manage arriving and departing aircraft, and coordinate takeoffs, landings and ground movements.

Skyguide counts seven civil regional airports: Bern, Buochs, Grenchen, Lugano Agno and St. Gallen Altenrhein, as well as Locarno and Sion where the air traffic is both civil and military.


A high variety of traffic is characteristic for regional air traffic control: Commercial flights mingle with small tourism aircraft, helicopters, gliders, etc. This variety requires special concentration from our regional air traffic controllers.