The lack of snow affects ski areas at lower altitudes. Many are currently unable to maintain operations at all or only to a limited extent.
There is no snow, the temperatures are mild. This is particularly worrying for ski areas at lower altitudes. You have to temporarily stop skiing completely or at least partially.
For example Splugen GR. The systems there have been idle since the beginning of this week. The ski area in the Viamala region announced that it was no longer possible to prepare the slopes. Reason: there is too much water on the slope, the snow no longer freezes. “If there is a possibility, we will apply for short-time work,” says Managing Director Hacher Bernet of the newspaper “Südostschweiz”. Some employees currently have to stay at home.
The situation is similar in other lower-lying ski areas. According to the cantonal office for industry, commerce and work, a dozen pre-registrations for short-time work have already been received in the canton of Graubünden for December. “This affects mountain railway companies as well as mountain restaurants and restaurants in winter sports areas,” says office manager Gian Reto Caduff (46) to Blick. In the canton of Berne, applications have already been received from mountain railways for short-time work compensation. So far there have been five, according to the unemployment insurance office of the canton of Bern.
“It needs uncomplicated short-time work regulations”
Nicolo Paganini (56), President of the Swiss Tourism Association, said on Wednesday: “The railways that are now standing still need an uncomplicated short-time work scheme.” It is now a question of overcoming the bottleneck. Negotiations on short-time work were ongoing, said Switzerland’s top tourism official.
Because the ski companies cannot get short-time work benefits as easily as during Corona if the weather does not allow regular operation. The “short-time work for weather-related customer failures” is considered a restrictive special case, the hurdles for payments are relatively high.
For example, the turnover in the accounting period in question must not be higher than a quarter of the average of the last five years. In addition, for companies that only operate seasonally, there is a waiting period for the first failure within a season. Their length can vary from canton to canton. The cantons are responsible for checking and approving short-time work compensation, which also applies to absences due to unusual weather conditions.
Swiss cable cars optimistic
The thaw at the start of the season for the Swiss cable cars is rated less dramatically. For the time being there are no talks about short-time work compensation, as it says on request: “The start of the season was not that long ago and the winter is still going on. According to our seasonal monitoring, sales are average compared to the last five years.” The mountain railways in Switzerland have developed a high level of resilience in recent years and would also master this challenge.
Hans Wicki (59), Nidwalden FDP member of the Council of States and President of Swiss cable cars, says: “So far we have not received any flood of news complaining that the mild temperatures and the lack of snow would pose major problems for the mountain railway operators.” Ski resorts at higher altitudes had no problems anyway.
There have already been a number of season starts with little snow, which is “part of the entrepreneurial risk of mountain railways,” says the cable car manager. A similar problem arises, for example, when it snows a lot, because many people would stay away. “We currently see no need for action regarding short-time work compensation for mountain railway companies.”