Frankfurt night flight ban between 11pm and 5am upheld by higher court
A German court on Wednesday ruled in favor of a night flight ban at Frankfurt airport, Europe’s third busiest, dealing a blow to German flagship airline Lufthansa and airport operator Fraport. Lufthansa says it needs Frankfurt night flights so its cargo operations can compete with fast-growing Gulf airports and it will be hit financially if there is a ban. In 2009 the local government said it would allow 17 flights between 11 pm and 5am from the end of October 2011 on economic grounds. Then residents under the flight paths took the case to court. Their complaint was upheld in October by a local court just before the opening of the 4th runway. Now a judge at a higher court in Leipzig confirmed the ban and said the federal state of Hesse must make a new decision on whether to allow night flights. Along with a total ban from 11 pm to 5 am, the Leipzig court also reduced the number of flights permitted in the period covering the so-called shoulder hours from 10 pm to 6 am to 133 from 150. This will have implications for other European airports like Paris Charles de Gaulle and Heathrow.
Frankfurt night flight ban upheld
4.4.2012 (News Daily)
A German court on Wednesday ruled in favor of a night flight ban at Frankfurt airport, Europe’s third busiest, dealing a blow to German flagship airline Lufthansa and airport operator Fraport.
Lufthansa says it needs night flights at the airport so its cargo operations can compete with fast-growing Gulf airports and has warned the freight unit’s future investment plans of up to 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) rest on the decision.
After the local government said in 2009 it would allow 17 flights between 11 pm and 5am local time from the end of October 2011 on economic grounds, residents under the flight paths took the case to court.
Their complaint was upheld in October by a local court just ahead of the opening of the Fraport operated airport’s fourth runway, drawing howls of protest from airlines.
On Wednesday, the judge at a higher court in Leipzig confirmed the ban and said the federal state of Hesse must make a new decision on whether to allow night flights. He cautioned, however, that there was little room for maneuver.
Lufthansa shares fell 2.4 percent while Fraport was down 1.1 percent.
At a hearing last month, the judge had indicated mistakes had been made in the approval process for the new runway, under which a mediator proposed a night flight ban, before the local government unilaterally decided to allow 17 flights.
Since the temporary ban was implemented, regular Monday protests at the airport have also seen up to 5,000 people calling for the ban to be extended by two hours each night and for the new runway to be shut down.
Frankfurt Campaigners win Night Flight Ban
4.4.2012 (HACAN press release)
“I suspect this ruling has brought a Heathrow night flight ban a step closer”
The campaigners at Frankfurt Airport have won a night flight ban after the German courts today ruled in their favour (see story above). Flights will be banned from 11pm until 5am. It is thought the ruling could have implications for night flights at other European airports. Both Charles de Gaulle and Schiphol airports, where flights operate through the night, have been watching the ruling closely.
The German decision could also influence the situation at Heathrow where the Government will begin consulting later this year on plans for a new night flight regime after the current agreement with the airlines runs out in 2014. At present, no night flights are allowed at Heathrow between 11.30pm and about 4.15am but the Government is under pressure to introduce a ban from 11pm until 6am.
John Stewart, Chair of HACAN, which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said: “This is a very significant ruling which could have implications for airports across Europe, including Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick. Critically, the German court rejected arguments by Lufthanza that its business would be damaged by a night flight ban. This is the same argument that has been made by BAA and British Airways to justify night flights at Heathrow. I suspect this ruling has brought a Heathrow night flight ban a step closer”.
The night ban at Frankfurt is only one of the demands of the German protesters, thousands of whom occupy the airport terminal every Monday night (1). They are objecting about the impact of the 4th runway which was opened in October. The night flight ban will apply to all the airport’s runways.
(2). Pictures from the protest this week (Monday 2nd April):
Lufthansa hit as Frankfurt night flight ban upheld
By Victoria Bryan and Peter Maushagen (Reuters)
(Reuters) – A German court on Wednesday ruled in favour of a night flight ban at Frankfurt airport, Europe’s third busiest, dealing a blow to German flagship airline Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) and airport operator Fraport (FRAG.DE).
Lufthansa, which says night flights are crucial for its cargo operations and to compete with fast-growing Gulf airports, said the decision would have serious consequences for Germany as a place to do business.
“This is a good day for our rivals in Paris, London, Amsterdam and Dubai,” Chief Executive Christoph Franz told journalists.
He added the decision by a judge at a federal court in Leipzig to ban flights at Frankfurt between 11pm and 5am in response to complaints about the noise from residents would affect decisions on where Lufthansa makes future investments.
The ruling hurt shares in Lufthansa and Fraport, with Lufthansa down 4.6 percent at 03:24 p.m. British time and Fraport losing 2.4 percent.
Lufthansa Cargo said it would make a decision on future investment plans of up to 1 billion euros (819 million pounds) late in the third quarter.
“We have to wait and see how customers react to the summer flight plan,” Cargo Chief Executive Karl-Ulrich Garnadt said, confirming that the ban would cost it 40 million euros in lost earnings a year.
Lufthansa’s cargo arm, which had a 2011 operating profit of 249 million euros, had switched flights to Cologne during the winter but Garnadt said this was a “flop”, as it was impossible to relocate from its Frankfurt hub, where it also uses the belly space in Lufthansa passenger aircraft.
The judge said the state of Hesse, where Frankfurt is located, made mistakes in deciding to allow 17 flights during the night without proper consultation with stakeholders when approving expansion of the airport.
The judge said the state could now make a new decision on night flights, but warned there was little room for manoeuvre. Local transport minister Dieter Posch said Hesse would implement the ban “100 percent”.
Along with a total ban from 11 pm to 5 am, the Leipzig court also reduced the number of flights permitted in the period covering the so-called shoulder hours from 10 pm to 6 am to 133 from 150.
Political parties in the neighbouring state of Rhineland-Palatinate praised the efforts of the residents in making their case heard. A rising tide of people power in Germany also forced a rare referendum on plans to build a huge rail station in the southwestern city of Stuttgart.
The judge did however rule that the expansion of the airport was legitimate, disappointing those who had hoped for the new fourth runway that opened in October to be shut down.
One of the plaintiffs, Thomas Rapp, welcomed the fact he could now sleep for six hours at night. “But the planes fly 50 metres above my house every minute at peak times. You can’t hear a thing,” he said.
Industry groups said the decision puts Frankfurt at a distinct disadvantage to rival airports, such as London’s Heathrow where 17 flights are allowed between 11 pm and 6 am, with restrictions on the type of aircraft permitted.
German tourism association DRV and airline Condor, owned by tour operator Thomas Cook (TCG.L), said the decision would also hit tourism hard. Many tour operators use the shoulder hours for flights to fly holiday-loving Germans to sunny destinations.
The Wednesday ruling on night flights confirmed one made by a court of lower instance in October, which came just as Frankfurt’s new fourth runway was opened.
Since then, thousands of people have attended regular Monday protests at the airport calling for the ban to be extended by two hours each night and for the new runway to be shut down.
Airport operator Fraport welcomed the fact that the judge had approved the airport expansion and said it would implement the ruling as quickly as possible.
There is more information on Frankfurt airport, and older news stories at
This link below goes a long way to explaining the huge protestsat Franfurt – http://www.DFLD.de/Downloads/120331_UECNA/120331_UECNA.pdf
It is a presentation which was given by Horst Weise to the UECNA meeting of European airport campaigners a couple of weeks ago in Brussels.
Essentially what happened was that, before the new runway was opened, the routes of the existing flight paths were changes significantly, lengthened and the planes started flying lower. A sure recipe for protest!
Despite the partial night flight ban which was agreed last week, the weekly protests are continuing. It is unlikely the campaigners will get the new runway closed but it will be interesting if anything is done about the new flight paths.
Some extracts below:
2. Night flight ban in Frankfurt On October 29, 2011, a temporary night flight ban became effective in Frankfurt. DFLD (a local group monitoring flight paths and noise) is the only neutral institution able to monitor the night flight ban. Therefore, we simultaneously implemented the new function of publishing all flights within the banned time in the Internet. The consequence was that the Hessian ministry of economy, responsible for exemption permissions, “was choked“ by inquiries, since the population made use of our lists and asked for reasons for each flight permitted within the ban period. Four weeks later, the ministry gave up and since then has published the reasons for each exemption permission in the Internet.
3. Investigation of changes of flight routes In 2011, flight routes in the Rhein-Main area were twice changed fundamentally: On March 10, 2011, the Northern downwind was shifted by 2.8 km northwards, and the Southern downwind was shifted by 2.3 km southwards. It was not communicated, though, that this shifting was associated with a massive lowering of flight levels. The official statements said: “There is no additional noise load for the population. The number of persons newly exposed to noise pollution is balanced by the number ofpersons now relieved from it“.With our data, we could prove that both the polluted area has increased by more than300 square kilometres and a large-scale change to lower-level flights has takenplace.We received 14 investigation orders by German federal states, districts, and cities todo detailed investigations for their area.The results of these investigations were made available to the ‘Aircraft noiseprotection commission’. Six months later, the “Rhein-Main low flight system“ had become a subject discussed in the Hessian parliament. Due to the massive resistance of the population (regular “Monday demonstrations“ at Frankfurt airport, with 2,000 – 20,000 participants), the Hessian government had to“give in“: flight levels are said to be raised again in this very year. In all our investigations, we attach great importance to not only producing immense arrays of data but – according to our motto “We make noise visible“ – developing really illustrative depictions of their meaning.