Lufthansa: Night flight ban would hurt Germany

Monday, 22 August 2011 00:29 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Night-time flights are essential to ensure Germany does not lose its place in the freight market to the Middle East, Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz said on Friday.

“The threat of a night flight ban is hanging like the Sword of Damocles over Frankfurt,” Franz said at a logistics conference.

Currently, 17 movements - starts or landings - are permitted at Frankfurt airport, Germany’s largest, between 2300 CET and 0500 CET.

However, a court in Leipzig will decide on whether to allow an appeal calling for a complete ban on night flights in the autumn, just as airport operator Fraport plans to open its new landing strip.

“Gulf states want to replace Europe as a freight hub. We need internationally competitive operating times and that means night flights,” he added.

There is no love lost between German airlines and their fast-growing and cash-rich Middle-East counterparts, who are trying to expand in the European market.

Emirates has been pushing to get landing rights in Berlin and Stuttgart, in addition to its existing German destinations. Lufthansa has reportedly asked the government to deny it landing slots at Berlin’s new airport.

Franz also highlighted Dubai’s plans to significantly expand its freight handling capacity, as well as Qatar’s purchase of a 35 percent stake in Cargolux, Europe’s largest all-freight airline.