New night flight threat faces Lufthansa

LUFTHANSA Cargo will be forced once again to defend its freighter night flights at Frankfurt on 2 June, when the Hesse Administrative High Court in Kassel will once again consider imposing a total ban once the airport’s fourth runway opens in 2011.

This would overturn a compromise agreement reached with the German government last year, under which Lufthansa would be allowed 17 flights a night between 23.00 and 05.00 hours, and 150 between 22.00 and 6.00 hours, once the new runway is open.

The Kassel court expressed concern about this compromise on 15 January, when it gave the final go-ahead to the runway. Now Lufthansa faces a challenge on the issue from environmental groups.

A decision is not expected till July or August, and LH Cargo spokesman Nils Haupt (right) says that there could be an appeal to the German Administrative Court. “But they are overloaded with work and that could take right up to when the runway opens,” he says.

If a ban is imposed, Haupt says it will “effectively be the end for night flights” in Germany, though an exception will be Leipzig, which is the European hub of DHL.
Lufthansa Cargo will also have long haul main-deck capacity into Leipzig through its share in Aerologic, and could move cargo to the airport from Frankfurt on a proposed cargo train linking the two airports.

Haupt describes this as “a possible solution, but a bad solution”, pointing out the train would take four and a half hours. Deutsche Post-DHL, which was to have provided a base load for the train, also seems to be losing its enthusiasm for the project, he notes.

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