Cargo is moving five of its nightly flights from Frankfurt to Cologne/Bonn and is canceling several China flights per week to comply with the newly imposed curfew at Frankfurt Airport.
CEO Karl-Ulrich Garnadt said that estimates of a €30-50 million ($41-69 million) impact on profits are likely correct.
Frankfurt is opening its fourth runway on Friday, allowing for 92 hourly movements, up from 82. The capacity will rise further to a maximum of 126 flights per hour once terminals are also expanded over the coming years. A local court ruled earlier this month that no flights are allowed between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
The airport had agreed with neighboring communities to apply for a total ban on night flights in return for being allowed to build the fourth runway. That application was overthrown by the state government, which planned to allow 17 flights between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. A first court ruling stated that this number was too high, while a second decision banned flights altogether. A final decision by a federal court is not expected before early 2012.
Lufthansa Cargo says it will now fly five of its MD-11s from Frankfurt to Cologne/Bonn every night to park them for several hours and add more cargo before they resume their journey to Asia at their approved times. The airline will base one MD-11 permanently in Cologne/Bonn from January to allow for a late-night departure to North America. Cologne/Bonn does not have a curfew.
Garnadt said the Frankfurt curfew “forces us to fly a schedule that is partially absurd from an economic and ecological perspective.”
Germany’s air traffic control expects significant disruptions at Frankfurt with the new ban on night flights in place. It says current departure flows are not planned to be stopped abruptly at 11 p.m. Delays would almost certainly lead to flights being canceled until the next day if they cannot depart before the curfew becomes effective.
At least Lufthansa Cargo believes that the decision could still be overthrown next year by the federal court, but it is facing several tough months, if not worse.