Frankfurt airport – protest continues

German article about the continuing protests most Mondays (first this year on 16th Jan)  at Frankfurt airport, by hundreds or thousand, who are profoundly disturbed by – and opposed to – the new noise nuisance caused by flights from the runway that was opened in October 2011.  The protesters include wealthy citizens, as well as students and environmental activists.  Lufthansa is arguing that it should be allowed a large proportion of the night flights that are permitted. The matter goes to the Federal Administrative Court in March 2012 for decision.


FRANKFURT AIRPORT – bumpy landings

At Frankfurt airport, the nerves are on edge. Residents appalled by noise at night and a broken promise.


Jan 2012  (? 21st)

Protesters at Frankfurt airport (picture archive from November 2011)Protesters at Frankfurt airport (picture archive from November 2011)

Nachtflug- night flight

On the 21st October 2011 a new runway was opened at the airport in Frankfurt. Since then it has become much noisier, not just because fo the jets that are landing there. The neighbours are defending themselves noisily. They have erected brightly coloured hoardings and flags above their houses “Flight noise destroys peace of mind” and”Fraport (short for Frankfurt Airport) tortures Floersheim” (name of town).

Fraport is the biggest German airport, Floersheim is the name of the little town nearby. Well-to-do citizens from the fat belt (rich areas) around Frankfurtare here in alliance with Eco-activists and left-wing students. They are fighting against the flight noise, the airport, Lufthansa, the city of Frankfurtand the countyof Hesse. Since November the outraged people congregate regularly in their thousands inside terminal 1  of the enemy for “Monday demonstrations”. On the 16th January is the first one in the new year.

By now the noise crisis occupies the federal administration law court inLeipzig. The county government ofHessehas a huge problem: It wanted a new runway, but the people around the area no longer want it. The feud reminds us ofStuttgart21 in its fury even if the two infrastructure projects are otherwise not comparable.

How could it have come to this? The airport was supposed to grow bigger, so that even more planes could take off and land and keep Franfurt airport competitive. In 1997 the then Lufthansa boss Juergen Weber was the first to mention the possibility of a fourth runway. At the time, the wounds of the fight against runway west had hardly healed. The protests had lasted from 1972 until 1987 and two policemen had lost their lives.

The county government called a mediation round of 20 participants before planning the new runway. After two years of discussions all participants, even those from the citizen initiatives, agreed a compromise in January 2000: The airport was to get a new runway and as a concession Fraport would not go ahead with the planned 50-60 night flights. The then governing party coalition, black-yellow, (conservative and liberal)  promised to follow this path.

However, in December 2007 the ministry of economy ofHessemade a planning  decision which no longer forbade night flights. 17 night flights were to take place. A breach of promise with grave consequences. Today Fraport says that Lufthansa urged it to do this. Lufthansa says that the minister of transport forHessedecided the night flights for reasons of formal law. One thing is certain: 11 of the 17 night flights were going to be Lufthansa cargo flights and Lufthansa Cargo has its headquarters (home) in Frankfurt.

On the 10th October 2011 shortly before the opening of the runway, the administrative court of the county of Hesse in Kassel, decided in favour of a lady who lives nearby: During the core hours between11pm and 5am, defined as core night,  flights are unreasonable as disturbing the sleep of the Rhein-Main population.

This judgement stands until the Federal Administration Court will decide this point as the final judgement in March 2012