Swiss airspace was shut down for hours due to technical glitch

A technical malfunction early this morning prompted officials to close Swiss airspace and ground all flights in the area for safety purposes. The issue has since been rectified and airspace reopened, but not without inconveniencing travelers and business alike.

Skyguide, the air navigation service provider in Switzerland, announced the closure at 6:30 a.m. local time. Global flight tracking service Flightradar24 said inbound flights during the closure were diverted, and flights that normally go over Switzerland were forced to take a detour.

A follow-up message posted two hours later said the issue had been resolved, and that operations at the national airports of Zurich and Geneva were resuming.

Skyguide didn’t provide any details as to the nature of the technical malfunction but apologized for the incident and said it was doing everything in its power to keep flight delays to a minimum. Swissinfo.ch said a network problem at a Geneva computer center was to blame, adding that a cyber attack had been ruled out as a possible cause.

A nationwide grounding of flights is pretty uncommon. The Federal Aviation Administration grounded all flights in the US for the first time ever following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In 2017, United Airlines grounded flights for two hours due to “an IT issue.”

A brief ground stop was also issued for the West Coast and in Hawaii early this year that some believe was linked to a North Korean weapons test.