The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Air Zermatt Justifies Withdrawal Threat With Safety

Air Zermatt, a helicopter company, has explained its decision to withdraw from the forest fire in Bitsch VS with safety considerations. The company's CEO and pilot Gerold Biner said in an interview that the safety of the crews had the highest priority. Verwaltungsratspräsident Philipp Perren had threatened to withdraw from the firefighting efforts on Tuesday, citing the principle of subsidiarity, which states that the army should only be used when civilian resources are exhausted. Biner denied the accusation of greed and said that the deployment of three large helicopters and two other helicopters had been approved by the air transport coordinator. However, the coordinator was put under pressure from various sides to use the army's Super Puma helicopters. Biner said that the safety of the crews would have been compromised if an additional large helicopter had been used. The coordinator eventually agreed to use the army helicopters when additional resources were needed. According to army spokesman Stefan Hofer, a Super Puma was used on Monday and two helicopters were present on Tuesday, with one of them carrying out firefighting operations and the other on standby. Hofer said that the army was only deployed at the request and under the direction of the civilian authorities.

©Keystone/SDA

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