The Swiss Military Cancels Most Its Major Events Due To The Difficult Financial Situation

Swiss cancels events
Helvetic Airways Embraer E190-E2 flies alongside the Patrouille Suisse. (Image via Daniele Maiolo / Best Shot Aircraft)

The Swiss Army has announced it will renounce to a substantial part of the planned public events in the next two years, including AirSpirit24 and Defense25, due to a difficult financial situation.

With a press release issued on Jan. 26, 2024, the Swiss army (Armee) announced that it had to renounce the so-called “major events” of 2024 for economic reasons.

The major events in question are AirSpirit24 and Defense25. The first is an airshow held every 10 years to celebrate the main anniversaries of the Swiss Air Force; this year it would have been held in Emmen. Defense25 is a military exercise to demonstrate the work and capabilities of the Swiss Army’s ground troops to the population and would take place in Biere.

The Swiss Army or Schweizer Armee is the armed force of the Swiss Confederation, composed mainly of a militia, deals with national security, national defense and training of military personnel and is divided into Land Forces and Air Forces which have defended neutrality of the Confederation since 1817.

The Armee employs almost 150,000 active soldiers plus, in the event of war, around 1.8 million men and women citizens (between 18 and 45 years old) fit for service and constantly updated. Since 2020, the commander is Corps Commander Thomas Süssli who reports to the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) and the President of the Confederation.

With a budget of around 5 to 6 billion Swiss francs (5.78 – 6.94B USD), it carries out many operations both on federal territory and abroad, such as SwissCoy in Kosovo; among these there are also events that bring the population closer to the activities of the military.

Due to the difficult financial situation, the Swiss military is forced to renounce to a substantial part of the planned public events.

Two major events were planned for 2024 and 2025, AirSpirit24 and Defense25, which were to present to the Swiss population the investments made in recent years for the defense of the territory.

The most anticipated event of the two canceled ones would have been AirSpirit24.

Every 10 years the air force celebrates 3 of its most important anniversaries in a one-of-a-kind event. As already happened in 1994 in Buochs, and in 2004 and in 2014 in Payerne, 2024 would have celebrated the 110 years of the Swiss Air Force as well as the 60 years of the Patrouille Suisse and the 35 years of the PC-7 Team. With a program and planning already established, the organizational machine was moving forward to best plan the event which scheduled to take place on Aug. 30 and 31, 2024.

Unfortunately, with an unexpected press release all the work done by the organizers was lost in an instant with enormous disappointment both internally at Armee and among enthusiasts. Many hotels and facilities were already fully booked with reservations since the last months of 2023 and transport and parking for the public and guests had also been planned with both the authorities and transport companies.

The three previous events had seen an audience of between 100,000 and 200,000 spectators per day and with a very high economic impact for the areas involved. In Emmen (Lucerne) due to limited space, the number of guests and audience would have been limited to 80,000 people.

In addition to the two aforementioned events, the press release also announces the waiver of probable other events in the 2024-25 period.

In an interview, army chief Thomas Süssli said: “In the coming years we will depend on every franc” referring to the fact that Parliament has promised more money to the army, but it will only arrive in a few years.

This year, among other things, the Swiss Air Force will take part in the TLP – Tactical Leadership Program at Albacete (Spain), between Jan. 26 and Feb.9, an exercise from which they had been absent since 2016.

About Daniele Maiolo
Daniele Maiolo is a freelance photographer/reporter based in Switzerland. Editor and photographer at Best Shot Aircraft, he is a composite materials specialist and aeronautical technician at an MRO Company at Zurich airport.