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Departure time for helicopters

Heli-tourism: nature pays a high price for this trend. © Roderick Eime_flickr

At a time of declining winter tourism, heli-skiing brings in extra income. While sports enthusiasts might pay a few hundred euros, nature pays a high price.

Well-heeled winter sports fans can easily fly to the summit by helicopter; heli-biking is the latest trend; and taxi alternative Uber offered helicopter flights on demand for the Hahnenkamm race in Kitzbühel, Austria. Supply and demand for heli-tourism is increasing, although flying is the most energy-intensive form of mobility. «From an environmental point of view it is not just the high level of CO2 emissions that is critical, but also the noise of helicopters negatively affecting whole valleys», explains Maren Kern, new head of mountain wilderness Switzerland. The country has 42 mountain landing sites: the Federal Administrative Court recently ruled that the establishment of the mountain landing sites, adopted in 2014, involved serious legal flaws. Now 20 of the landing sites located in national protected areas must be considered anew. In the view of mountain wilderness, «these helipads should be definitively abolished.»

Italy has a similarly lax regulatory approach to Switzerland. The generous rules also permit their French neighbours a backdoor: heli-skiing is prohibited in France but, in the Val d’Isère, helicopters fly on the Italian side of the valley. From there skiers can descend back into French territory. Germany and Austria too have prohibited heli-tourism, yet the Arlberg is an exception: flights to two mountains are permitted there during the week.

 

Sources and further information:

http://mountainwilderness.ch/aktuell/einzelansicht/artikel/aufhebung-von-zwei-gebirgslandeplaetzen-rechtswidrig-warum-es-die-umweltverbaende-trotzdem-freut/ (de), https://diepresse.com/home/wirtschaft/eco1848/5350956/Uber-bietet-in-Oesterreich-erstmals-Helikopterfluege-an (de) www.blick.ch/news/schweiz/umweltschuetzer-toben-wallis-erlaubt-heli-biking-id7744359.html (de)