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Air cargo: Lufthansa rolls out alternate plans to deal with ban on night flights starting next week

By Staff
October 20, 2011

Faced with the prospect of not being allowed to fly its air cargo planes at night, Lufthansa Cargo said earlier today it is working on contingency plans to, once the night flight ban takes effect on October 30.

This ban was handed down by a German regional court, according to Lufthansa, and it was issued days prior to the airline’s rollout of winter flight schedules. The carrier’s cargo flights originate out of its main hub in Frankfurt, Germany.

On a media conference call earlier today, Karl Ulrich Garnadt, Lufthansa Cargo Chairman, said that an “emergency timetable” is in place for when the ban goes live.

Among the steps outlined by Garnadt are:
-re-locating nighttime flights to daytime slots or to early and late hours of the day;
-cancelling individual connections to countries like China, with other China-bound flights stopping over Cologne/Bonn Airport for several hours after an evening departure from Frankfurt, which would continue at night; and
-at least one MD-11 freighter will be transferred from Frankfurt to Cologne/Bonn Airport and will operate the indispensable overnight flights for the German logistics industry to North America, which can no longer be guaranteed from Frankfurt due to the night-time ban.

The Lufthansa executive added that this night-flight ban has forced the carrier to “lay on a timetable,” which he deemed as economically and ecologically absurd, in that Lufthansa will be operating with unnecessary take-offs and landings which will result in more noise, higher fuel consumption, and increased cost overruns.

In terms of how much this situation is likely to cost Lufthansa, Garnadt said it is likely to be in the tens of millions range (Euros).

“We have managed at great expense to keep our customer services comparatively intact,” said Garnadt in a Reuters report. “We are currently looking at options; the combination of freight and belly in Frankfurt is so important to us. 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.”

The Reuters report added that more than half of German air freight flies out of Frankfurt and about 80 percent of Lufthansa Cargo’s global tonnage is handled in Frankfurt. And prior to the court’s decision to halt night flights, Reuters said Lufthansa’s winter schedule was planned to have around 10 or 11 of 17 landings or takeoffs available at the airport between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

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