In a ruling handed down by a German court in Leipzig, a Judge had agreed with an earlier court ruling that would ban overnight cargo flight operations at Frankfurt’s airport. Residents who live near the airport have complained about the noise levels ever since Frankfurt opened it’s 4th runway last year.
Reuters carried a great article today that goes into the details of the decision and the wider impact that this will have on Lufthansa and other carriers that operate in the late night to pre-dawn time slots. Unfortunately it appears that charter flights will be impacted as well since these flights usually arrive or depart during the the now-banned time frames.
In an interesting and somewhat sarcastic spirit Lufthansa’s CEO Christoph Franz was quoted as saying that “This is a good day for our rivals in Paris, London, Amsterdam and Dubai”. In other words, British Airways, Air France, KLM and Emirates now stand to pick up the cargo business that Lufthansa may lose, thanks to their own countrymen.
Additionally, with this ban now being officially approved Lufthansa will have difficult decisions to make in the near future including the potential for substantial job loss and the grounding of it Cargo Aircraft. Lufthansa also has gone as far as saying that this decision will have a dramatic impact on future investments in their cargo operations at Frankfurt. A decision on a 1 billion dollar infusion into cargo operations has been deferred and will be made sometime late in the 3rd quarter.
A silver lining in all of this is the fact that the judge did rule in favor of Fraport (The airport operator) on one issue and allowed them to keep the 4th runway open at other times. The plaintiffs in the complaint had requested that Fraport be forced to close the 4th runway permanently.
I hope the court knows what it is doing (however I don’t think they took Lufthansa’s perspective seriously). In this case, it clearly appears that the squeaky wheels have gotten the oil, but at what price? I hope they understand what the impact will be on the local economy when Lufthansa is forced to layoff hundreds if not thousands of people and ground their fleet of DC-10 long haul cargo aircraft. Of course Lufthansa will be made the scapegoat for job losses if it comes to that because you couldn’t possibly hold the residents accountable. But at least those who complained will be able to sleep at night.