* Ban to start just after new runway enters service on Oct
* Lufthansa Cargo says decision will cost it millions of
* Lufthansa says examining legal options
* 17 starts or landings due to be allowed during 2300-0500
By Victoria Bryan and Peter Maushagen
FRANKFURT, Oct 11 A German court has banned
night flights at Frankfurt airport after complaints from
residents, dealing a blow to cargo and passenger operations as
Germany's largest airport prepares to open a new runway.
The administrative supreme court of Hesse said the ban would
start on Oct. 30 with the new winter flight schedule, drawing
consternation from German airlines at the lack of time in which
to alter internationally agreed flight schedules.
"To implement such a ban at short notice will have
significant economic consequences," a spokesman for
Frankfurt-based Lufthansa said.
The local state government decided in 2009 to allow 17
movements -- starts or landings -- between the hours of 2300 CET
and 0500 CET for the winter schedule, mostly for cargo flights.
It decided to allow the flights on economic grounds, even
though the Frankfurt airport operator Fraport had
agreed not to push for night flying rights as part of a deal to
secure permission for the new runway and adjacent terminal that
residents had objected to.
Airlines, such as Thomas Cook unit Condor, said
Tuesday's decision came unexpectedly, especially as they were
still waiting for a decision from a different, higher court in
Leipzig, which is also listening to a complaint from residents.
Lufthansa said it was looking into possible legal measures,
even though the Hesse court said in its statement no legal
recourse was available.
"As far as we are concerned the permitted movements are
still valid until the decision of the Federal Administrative
Court in Leipzig," the company said.
That court will make a decision on night flights at
Frankfurt, Europe's third busiest airport in terms of passenger
numbers, at the beginning of 2012 at the latest. Its decision
will take precedence over that of the Hesse court.
Lufthansa Chief Executive Christoph Franz warned in August
that a night flight ban would hurt Germany's freight market and
benefit hubs in the Middle East, which are expanding rapidly.
Lufthansa Cargo until now had operated between 8 and 10
movements each night and had hoped to increase that to 11 once
the new landing strip was opened.
It said the ban would cost it millions of euros.
Shares in Lufthansa were down 2.2 percent at 9.78 euros at
1508 GMT, Fraport was down 1.7 percent at 44.55 euros.