German night-flight bans upset airports

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Published: May 2, 2012

Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) state government last month implemented a night-flight ban for passenger aircraft at Cologne/Bonn Airport (CGN) between midnight and 5 a.m. local time. Cargo flights are excluded.

The decision affects around 6,000 aircraft movements annually. CGN CEO Michael Garvens said in a statement that the ban is without a legal basis, will damage the aviation market in NRW and put jobs in danger. He added that the airport would appeal the ban to Germany’s transport ministry.

Cargo carriers are concerned they won’t be excluded from the ban indefinitely. Earlier in April, a German court upheld a night-flight ban at Frankfurt Airport (FRA) between 11 p.m. and 5 p.m., dealing a blow to cargo airlines operating at the busy airport.

According to Garvens, the situations—both related to complaints about aircraft noise around the airports—are not comparable. He accused the NRW government of “unlawful interference with an existing operating permit.” Garvens said the proposed noise relief at CGN will be “low” because “passenger [aircraft] are usually smaller [than cargo aircraft] , more modern and [use] low-noise [engines] .”

CGN is one of the largest commercial airports in Germany, serving more than 10 million passengers per year.

Lufthansa Cargo (LHC) chairman and CEO Karl Ulrich Garnadt told ATW the FRA ban will cost LHC €40 million ($ 53 million) annually. “This is substantial,” he said. “The amount in turnover we lose is a three-digit million euro number.” The decision could also affect all future investments at FRA, he said.

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