NATO exercise will disrupt flights across Germany this summer

NATO exercise will disrupt flights across Germany this summer

This summer, NATO will be conducting the largest air force exercise the alliance has ever attempted. According to the German Army (Bundeswehr), passengers flying in and out of German airports should expect disruption between June 12 and 23, 2023.

June NATO air exercises to dominate Bavarian air space

"Air Defender 23" is the largest air exercise in the history of NATO. Occurring between June 12 and 23, 2023, the operation will involve 220 aircraft from 24 NATO members, with around 10.000 ground, air and support troops participating.

According to the website of the Bundeswehr, the exercise is designed to “optimise and enhance cooperation among NATO forces and to show the strength of the alliance.” With the war in Ukraine continuing unabated, and with China showing increasing hostility towards Taiwan, the show of force - or sabre rattling to critics - is expected to showcase what reaction there would be if a NATO member finds itself under fire.

Air Defender 23 will disrupt flights in Germany

In the skies above Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate, the Netherlands and Czechia, the 220 aircraft will conduct their exercises. However, the majority of the action will be seen in the skies above Lachfeld in Bavaria

During parts of the exercise, significant airspace in southern Germany will be closed to commercial flights. This has sounded alarm bells for civil aviation authorities in Germany and in Switzerland, as although our southern neighbour will not be directly participating in the exercise - as the country is not a member of NATO because of its strict policy of neutrality - the knock-on effects from the closures are likely to impact departures from airports in Switzerland and across Europe.

“Longer flight times, delays or even cancellations cannot be ruled out across Europe, especially in the event of bad weather,” a spokesperson from the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation said. Passengers looking to travel during these dates are advised to stay regularly updated with their airline regarding cancellations and time changes. Private and general aviation traffic is also likely to be affected by the exercise.

For more information about the exercise itself, check out the Bundeswehr website.

Thumb image credit: Albert Beukhof /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer



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