Project Development

"The Future of Mollis Airport": Project status as of November 2011

November 2011: canton and townships come to a decision

Another important milestone for the project "The Future of Mollis Airport" was achieved in November. The canton and townships found a joint solution: Glarus will waive its right of pre-emption to a partial tract of land, while the government of Glarus Nord has signalled its desire to purchase the airport. Nothing more stands in the way of the project. The proposal will be submitted to the voters of Glarus Nord in the upcoming spring assembly of 2012.

September 2011: consultation with townships brings delays

The process of civil conversion of Mollis Airport has been delayed. Further clarifications with the new townships and armasuisse are necessary before the government can decide whether to approve the second stage of the project. After the structural reform of townships, the canton faced a new starting situation, which had an affect on the progress of the responsible steering group. The new township representatives had to be actively incorporated into the opinion-making process. This was largely expressed in the now completed consultation process. Discussions about a further course of action and deeper clarification with the townships are underway based on its results.
The canton is sticking to the project goal of maximising the airport's value through use for civil aviation while maintaining the high standard of living for residents. Under these new circumstances, it is prepared to review alternative scenarios and cooperative models between canton and townships in addition to the already developed ones. The canton wishes to push ahead with the rest of the process as quickly as possible.

October 2009: growth potential available – better knowledge of costs needed

Based on the results of an independent analysis of profitability and potential, the government remains convinced of the wisdom of implementing the civil use project. Its result will be an increase in the value creation of the airport – with the proviso that the maximum possible standard of living must be retained for residents. However, the canton also holds that more effort is required to realise the desired potential. A more thorough analysis of costs must be carried out in order to put a number on this and ensure greater investment security before the second project stage can be approved. Of relevance are the sale conditions and the potential costs of runway renovation, which is why the government is entering into negotiations with the responsible federal office of armasuisse.

May 2009: analysis of profitability and potential commissioned

The government is commissioning a fact-based analysis of profitability and potential by an independent institution as an additional basis for decisions about entering into the SIL process and about the beginning of the actual implementation procedure. This analysis can be submitted together with the LUP to the steering group, the monitoring group, and finally the governing council in the fall of 2009.

October 2008: definitely no more military use

An interim report of the DDPS submitted on 13 October 2008 confirms that the air force no longer can or wishes to utilise Mollis Airport. Now the work on the LUP can be completed and the necessary coordination discussions with the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) can begin. An operational concept for the airport is being developed parallel to this. Finally, the functional specifications for the future operator will be prepared. If there are multiple applicants, operation of Mollis Airport may be put out to public tender.

July 2008: steering group sticks to civil conversion

The steering group that is promoting the project "The Future of Mollis Airport" on behalf of the cantonal government is conducting an assessment of the situation at the beginning of July 2008. The canton and the townships of Mollis, Näfels, and Netstal, who are represented in the steering group, agree that the project works should continue unabated. No one wishes to suspend them.
The steering group has signalled to federal military offices that the civil conversion of Mollis Airport is of high economic importance to the canton of Glarus. The goal is to create more jobs at a civilian Mollis Airport without compromising the quality of life and recreation in the surrounding area.
Based on the consultation results on the land use plan (LUP), the steering group has decided to review the following points in the coming months: where to place the planned Netstal network link, evidence that there is a need to zone additional industrial areas next to the airport, and usage options of the runway taking into account safety requirements and the existential needs of agriculture. 

February 2008: military stationing idea reviewed by DDPS

The work on the LUP has been complicated by an announcement by the Swiss Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection, and Sport (DDPS). According to the DDPS, the air force stationing idea will be reviewed once more. The news is sudden and necessarily poses a challenge for all participants in the project "The Future of Mollis Airport."

January 2008: Development of land use plan (LUP)

As of the start of 2008, the Bern engineering firm Bächtold & Moor has begun developing a land use plan (LUP). Numerous talks with official representatives, businesses operating at the airport, and other interested organisations are being held. The first draft will be presented at an information session in the Lintharena of Näfels. The LUP will then be subject to a consultation process.
The LUP is considered a good method of discussing the future use of the airport. There are still some conflicts of interest on important points, but these will be mitigated as the plan is optimised.

December 2007: planned upper limit of 18,000 aircraft movements

The steering group responsible for the project "The Future of Mollis Airport" has come to the unanimous decision that the number of annually permitted aircraft movements should permit modest development of air traffic. Related to this is the goal of creating new jobs at Mollis Airport.
Based on clarifications by the Bern engineering firm Bächtold & Moor, the theoretical upper limit of annually permitted aircraft movements will be set at 18,000. This planned value allows for statutory emission limit values to be maintained in all surrounding residential zones. It also preserves the residential settlement development of the townships of Mollis, Näfels, and Netstal. Talks with the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) have shown that an upper limit of 18,000 aircraft movements is in accordance with regulations. This upper limit is a planning assumption. The actual limit for future operations will be set later by the government – when decisions are made about the performance desired for civil aviation. The entire conversion process is also subject to a normal approval procedure that guarantees the right of public co-determination.

 

November 2007: noise report acknowledged by FOCA

 

The engineering firm Bächtold & Moor has presented the steering group with the results of its noise report. The calculation methods used are officially recognised by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA). The result: the statutory planned value is met in the surrounding townships of Mollis, Näfels, and Netstal for all variations calculated. The noise calculations will also be presented to the official representatives of the three primarily affected townships. On this occasion, councillor Dürst will emphasise that the future civil use plan for Mollis Airport will not be imposed over the heads of the communities affected.

 

August 2007: beginning of project work

 

After various necessary clarifications, the steering group met for the first time on 14 August 2007. It was decided to commission a noise report from the Bern engineering firm Bächtold & Moor. The report is part of the environment reporting that is a mandatory component of the conversion process. The contract calls for theoretical noise levels to be calculated for the scenarios of 10,000, 16,000, and 30,000 aircraft movements per year. These scenarios were chosen because the project work has shown that the current number of aircraft movements (10,000) will not suffice to finance future civil aviation on a private basis.
On 15 August 2007, the support group is meeting to exchange information with the project officers. Representatives of private interest groups will have an opportunity to have first-hand involvement in the project and register their concerns.

 

May 2007: kick-off event at the airport

 

On 8 May 2007, a kick-off event will be held on the airport grounds with everyone working on the project. As chair of the steering group, councillor Marianne Dürst will give an overview of the project's goals, while project director Ernst A. Brugger will summarise the tasks of both work groups in detail.

 

March 2007: Glarner governing council approves project organisation

 

After a preliminary talk between the canton and FOCA, the Glarner governing council has endorsed the plans for future use submitted by the work group "The Future of Mollis Airport" in March. At the same time, it has approved the project organisation plan that permits integration of the interested authorities and spheres into the coming project work.

October 2006: presentation of report "The Future of Mollis Airport

 

On the occasion of an event, the affected townships of Mollis, Näfels, and Netstal, the businesses operating at the airport, and the airport association were provided with an orientation about the results of an earlier workshop. In the report "The Future of Mollis Airport," it was found that the canton of Glarus, the township of Mollis, and the businesses and associations at Mollis Airport are in agreement that Mollis Airport should continue to be used for aviation after the withdrawal of the air force at the beginning of 2008. The discontinuation of flight activity would mean the end of the aviation businesses at the site and a loss of attractiveness for recreational use. The conversion from a military into a civil airport will be defined by the scenario "qualitative dynamics": the goal is to create more jobs without compromising the quality of living and recreation in the local township of Mollis and its neighbouring areas.

Based on its development policy approach and an economic core area strategy, Mollis Airport is an important local factor for the canton of Glarus in the governing council's eyes. The report offers the following suggestions in detail:

 

  1. The civil airport of Mollis will be operated by a private company according to economic principles starting in 2008. In order to protect the public interest, the public airport operator (canton and township of Mollis) will issue a performance mandate. A rough target profit and loss statement for this operating company is on hand and shows that a financing gap exists.
  2. The business model of the airport operating company is based on a three-tiered aviation offer and income from events. Public authorities will step in to plug the financing gap in the starting phase if necessary.
  3. The essential requirements for future flight operations will be set by FOCA. Questions regarding flight safety, infrastructure, and environment and noise protection are at the forefront. The roughly sketched business model must be harmonised with these underlying framework conditions that apply to continued operation of former military airports as civil airports.
  4. For the transitional phase from 2006 to 2008, a project organisation with three themed work groups (land use planning/building site preparation/infrastructure for public safety, new company/private infrastructure, communication/participation) coordinated by a project management group has been suggested. A negotiation committee will be formed to negotiate with the involved federal offices. A support group will also be formed to maintain a dialogue with interested organisations.

 

In the subsequent discussion, all participants agreed to pursue the lines of attack suggested in the final report and to form work groups to handle individual task areas in the conversion process.

December 2004: the air force says farewell

 

The Swiss Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection, and Sport (DDPS) wants to strike Mollis Airport from its list of high-priority facilities and will no longer provide military use. Mollis Airport will be closed to both military and civil flights as of 31/12/2007 unless the canton of Glarus introduces a conversion procedure and simultaneous ownership negotiations with the federal government.