October 11, 2011 / 12:50 PM / 9 years ago

Court stops night flights at Frankfurt airport

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A German court has banned night flights at Frankfurt airport for now, dealing a blow to cargo operations at Germany’s largest airport just as it prepares to open its new runway.

The control tower of Frankfurt airport is pictured August 2, 2011. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

The administrative supreme court of the state of Hesse said the ban would take effect just after the entry into service of the new runway, slated for October 21, and will only be used for landings.

The court said the ban would start on October 30 with the new Winter flight schedule.

Up until now, 17 movements — starts or landings — were permitted at Frankfurt airport between the hours of 2300 CET and 0500 CET, mostly used for cargo flights.

Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) Chief Executive Christoph Franz had in August warned 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 8-10 of the 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 and would result in flights being rearranged or cancelled.

Shares in Fraport were down 1.7 percent at 44.52 euros at 1141 GMT, Lufthansa was down 1.7 percent at 9.77 euros.

The court had said when it gave approval for expansion of the airport that it wanted more restrictions on night flights.

Airport operator Fraport (FRAG.DE) had filed for a night flight ban in order to get permission for the new runway and adjacent terminal and local residents took legal action after the 17 night movements were allowed anyway.

Germany’s Federal Administrative Court will make a decision on night flights at Frankfurt later this year, or at the start of 2012. Its decision will take precedence over that of the Hesse court.

Reporting by Peter Maushagen and Victoria Bryan

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