* Some flights cancelled, 1 freighter to switch to Cologne
* Cargo boss sees double-digit million euro costs
* Hopes Leipzig court will reinstate Frankfurt night flights
* Lufthansa shares fall 1.2 percent
By Victoria Bryan
FRANKFURT, Oct 20 German airline Lufthansa AG
said a court ruling halting night flights from its
cargo unit's Frankfurt hub would cost it tens of millions of
euros in rescheduled flights, result in lost customers and hurt
the logistics industry.
Lufthansa Cargo has yet to come up with a long-term
alternative for its operations should the night flight ban be
upheld by a new court ruling, due in 2012, the unit's CEO said
In the meantime, the company has adopted an emergency winter
schedule, which includes cutting two flights a week to China,
moving flights to daytime, and introducing stop-overs in
Cologne/Bonn for flights to China.
It will also station a freighter in Cologne from January to
serve North American routes.
"We've managed at great expense to keep our customer
services comparatively intact," Lufthansa Cargo boss Karl Ulrich
Along with a fleet of 18 MD-11F freighters, Lufthansa Cargo
also uses the 'belly space' on passenger aircraft operated by
parent Lufthansa, which is also based in Frankfurt, thus making
it difficult to switch its cargo operations to other airports.
"We are currently looking at options; the combination of
freight and belly in Frankfurt is so important to us," Garnadt
More than half of German air freight flies out of Frankfurt,
Garnadt said, with about 80 percent of Lufthansa Cargo's
worldwide tonnage being handled there.
"Closing the world's seventh biggest airport for six hours
each night and thereby decoupling it from the international
goods flows constitutes a severe blow to the air traffic
industry," he said.
Before a court in Hesse earlier this month banned night
flights from Oct. 30, Lufthansa Cargo's winter schedule was
planned to have around 10 to 11 of the 17 landings or take-offs
available at Germany's largest airport between the hours of 2300
and 0500 local time.
A higher court in Leipzig is due to rule on whether to allow
the night flights in the first quarter of 2012.
Shares in Lufthansa were down 1.2 percent at 9.76 euros at
1221 GMT, underperforming a 0.2 percent rise in the Stoxx Europe
600 Travel and Leisure index .
Garnadt said there were no plans to delay an order for
Boeing 777 freighters, with the first delivery due in
2013, but should the night flight ban be upheld, Lufthansa would
have to look at where to station the freighters.
"It would have an impact on the number of freighters and the
size of the investment in Frankfurt," he said, but rejected the
suggestion that Lufthansa Cargo could move all of its freighters
out of the hub.
In order to use the night flight paths scheduled over Russia
and China this winter, Lufthansa will now load up freighters in
Frankfurt, fly them the 20 minutes to Cologne in the evening,
park them for 3 hours and take off again.
Garnadt said using Cologne - not currently a big cargo site
for Lufthansa but closer than its other cargo hubs in Munich and
Leipzig - was only a temporary solution as night flights there
were also limited.
Frankfurt Hahn, used mostly by low-cost carriers such as
Ryanair , was not an option because it lacked long-haul
Garnadt said last week the freight market, an important
indicator of the strength of the world economy, was getting
tougher, as growth in Asia slows.