Cargo left in the dark

THE threat of a night-time ban on flights to and from German airports collectively, as well as Manston Airport in the UK, is prompting serious questions about the viability of airfreight serving these markets.

A court in Leipzig (Germany) will soon decide whether to allow an appeal calling for a complete ban on night flights in the autumn. The news comes as a sore blow to Frankfurt, which is gearing up for the opening of its new landing strip.

Lufthansa sees this decision as a barrier to booming business between the Middle East and Europe.

“Gulf states want to replace Europe as a freight hub. We need internationally competitive operating times and that means night flights,” Lufthansa chief executive officer Christoph Franz said.

Lufthansa has had its scuffles with Middle Eastern carriers, reportedly asking the government to deny them landing slots at Berlin’s new airport. Emirates has been pushing to get landing rights in Berlin and Stuttgart, in addition to its existing German destinations.

In the UK the Labour Group on Thanet District Council are hoping to impose restrictions on flights to and from Manston Airport.

A night curfew could cost the airport 67,000 tonnes of cargo each year, making business unviable. Because of the loss of trade due to restricting night flights, Manston’s potential to create jobs will be cut by almost half, from over 2,000 people directly employed in airport activities to 1,102 jobs by 2018.

“Restricting our operating hours will fundamentally affect the economic viability of the airport. It will reduce our ability to attract passenger and freight services and secure based airlines, which would offer a greater range and frequency of scheduled passenger services,” Charles Buchanan, chief executive officer of Manston Airport, said.

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