It is a historic event that will take place in the airspace over Germany from June 12 to 23, 2023: NATO’s Air Defender. More than 230 aircraft from 25 nations practice various war maneuvers during the one-off air force exercise. Because the entire airspace is closed for some of the exercises, there may also be cancellations and delays in civil air traffic.

According to a simulation by the Air Traffic Control Union (GdF), the maneuver can delay travel by around 50,000 minutes a day, which would affect up to 100 aircraft throughout Germany. The European air traffic control Eurocontrol does not expect flight cancellations, but definitely expects delays.

How the maneuver will affect air traffic in concrete terms is hardly foreseeable. Airports and airlines have been preparing for the potential impact for months, for example by relaxing the ban on night flights or by increasing staff.

The Bundeswehr, on the other hand, expects hardly any impairments in civil aviation. In order not to restrict travel as much as possible, the exercise was divided into three airspaces, each of which is to be used for the maneuver one after the other.

Flight zone north includes East Friesland, parts of Emsland and northern Schleswig-Holstein and is closed to holiday fliers every day between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Flight zone east includes Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, part of Berlin-Brandenburg and the region around Leipzig and Dresden and is closed daily between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Flight zone south stretches from Rhineland-Palatinate via Stuttgart to Augsburg and Kempten in the Allgäu. There, civil aircraft are taboo every day from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

This puts the Berlin-Brandenburg and Stuttgart airports at the center of the exercise. Passengers who depart or land there should contact their airline in good time to find out about possible delays. But passengers planning a trip from another German airport in June should also be prepared for delays.

The Luftwaffe maneuvers come at a time when there is already a high volume of travel at German airports. Incidentally, the usual passenger rights also apply to delays due to the manoeuvre, which you can find described in detail here.