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UPDATE 2-Court stops night flights at Frankfurt airport
October 11, 2011 / 4:30 PM / in 6 years

UPDATE 2-Court stops night flights at Frankfurt airport

* Ban to start just after new runway enters service on Oct 21

* Lufthansa Cargo says decision will cost it millions of euros

* Lufthansa says examining legal options

* 17 starts or landings due to be allowed during 2300-0500 until now

By Victoria Bryan and Peter Maushagen

FRANKFURT, Oct 11 (Reuters) - 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.

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