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TIACA, Lufthansa oppose German night-flight ruling

By control on April 9, 2012

TIACA is the latest organization to react to the move by the Federal Administrative Court in Germany to uphold Frankfurt Airport's night-flight ban. Last fall, the Hesse Administrative High Court imposed a cessation of all flights between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., which was enforced until the higher court had a chance to rule on the issue.

Carriers and airline organizations had hoped that the administrative court would overturn the previous ruling, but also agreed that outcome was likely a long-shot. Nonetheless, associations like TIACA have come out against the final decision.

“Slots are a major battle ground for airlines at major airports across the globe and in recent years to satisfy the requirements of passengers, all-cargo operations have been pushed into the hours of the day, and usually the night, when passengers don’t want to fly," Oliver Evans, TIACA's industry affairs committee chair, said in a statement. "The air cargo industry has adapted to this and made it work. Today, night-time cargo flights are part of a seamless supply chain that means consumers and businesses can plan their stock levels and production schedules with confidence. This is now at risk."

Officials from Lufthansa, which utilizes Frankfurt as its primary airfreight hub, slammed the court’s decision as potentially hazardous to cargo operations. “On North Atlantic routes, in particular, the night-time departure is indispensable for our customers,” Lufthansa Cargo CEO Karl Ulrich Garnadt said in a statement. He predicts that the ban could cause express shipments to move away from Frankfurt Airport, which currently ranks as the seventh largest cargo airport in the world.

“The migration of urgent express products to other hubs in Europe will continue,” Garnadt stated. “Switching to other airports is impossible for Lufthansa Cargo, however, as more than half the cargo on-board passenger aircraft is transported via Frankfurt.”

After all, Garnadt said, “Frankfurt is an indispensable part of our business model. This is the only place where freighters and passenger aircraft can be linked quickly and smoothly.”

Initially, the Hesse court proposed that Frankfurt Airport be allowed to operate 17 flights at night. This reduction in night flights was the price imposed for allowing Frankfurt workers to build a new runway. Detractors wanted more, however. Citing noise pollution, night-flight opponents demanded a total ban, a complaint the Hesse court passed on to the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig. Before the high court could issue a ruling, however, Hesse made night flying illegal at Frankfurt.

Christoph Franz, chairman of the executive board and CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, called the Federal Administrative Court’s decision to uphold the ruling a “terrible blow to Germany’s reputation as a place to do business.”

“Frankfurt, Hesse, and yes, even Germany, as an export and logistics nation, would have their wings clipped,” Franz said in a statement. “There is no doubt that one of Europe’s largest hubs will fall behind in international competition. … A rigid night-flight ban without any operational flexibility is completely unreasonable. It is unique in its kind worldwide and ignores the realities of international competition.”

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