Thick black smoke from a nearby burning building temporarily halted all arrivals at Geneva Airport, Switzerland, on Friday afternoon. Departures from the second largest airport in the country were left to the pilots’ discretion. The fire broke out in a reception centre for asylum seekers under construction.
“Due to a fire at the edge of the runway, landings and takeoffs have been suspended since 17:35,” tweeted the official account of the airport. “A reopening of the runway, for takeoffs initially, is envisaged around 19:00” local time.
According to airport spokesman Ignace Jeannerat, the “new reception centre for asylum seekers – which was under construction… it is on fire. It is outside the perimeter of the airport.” He added: “It creates a lot of smoke”.
It is up to the pilots whether their flights will depart from the airport, he explained, as all arrivals are suspended for the time being.
Traffic resumed at 19:00 for takeoffs and at 19:30 for landings.
The first assessment of traffic disruptions after the fire shows major delays, 11 scheduled flights and 3 private flights diverted to other airports and at least 11 cancelled flights.
The airport, located next to the Swiss border with France, has a single concrete runway almost 4 km long. It is the second busiest airport in Switzerland, after Zurich.