Dead of night flights banned at Frankfurt | News | DW | 04.04.2012
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Dead of night flights banned at Frankfurt

A dead-of-night ban on flights at Frankfurt's airport has been confirmed by Germany's top administrative court, validating neighbors' noise complaints while frustrating airlines, especially those airlifting freight.

Residents who live near Frankfurt International Airport have welcomed confirmation of a ban on night-time flights by Germany's top administrative court, but the German aviation industry warns that the judgment will further trim Germany's trade competitiveness.

Hesse's transport minister Dieter Posch leaves through documents in the ornate Leipzig courtroom

Leipzig court overruled Hesse's transport minister Dieter Posch

Appeal judges in Leipzig endorsed a provisional six-hour overnight ban on takeoffs and landings at Germany's largest hub set by a lower appeals court and told the state of Hesse, which has a 31 percent stake in the airport, that it must revise its previous overnight clearances for 17 night flights.

The court also told Hesse to review a further 113 flights late evening and early morning. It said that night flights were only permissible in cases of "exceptional need." The sheer presence of an airport was not sufficient.

Terminal protests pay off

Residents, who said Frankfurt's recent opening of a fourth runway has ruined their sleep, say they had already expected the Leipzig court's decision to endorse the 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. overnight ban.

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Fazed Frankfurt airport residents

"Anything other than that would have shattered our belief in civic rule of law," said Ingrid Kopp on Wednesday.

Kopp heads a coalition of 60 resident lobby group comprising those who live on the periphery of Europe's third busiest airport, between the cities of Frankfurt and Wiesbaden.

For months, the opponents had flocked to Frankfurt's number one terminal on Mondays to protest and highlight the health risks of excessive noise.

Industry warns of loss of trade

However, the president of German BDL aviation industry federation, Klaus-Peter Siegloch, warned on Wednesday in reaction that Frankfurt would loose out further to other European and Middle Eastern hubs.

"In Amsterdam, Paris, London or Dubai there are no such limitations," Siegloch said.

Lufthansa Cargo, the freight division of Germany's leading airline based at Frankfurt, had estimated that a night flight ban would cost it 40 million euros ($53 million) in earnings each year. Its freight flights service North America and Asia.

Aircrafts parked on apron in front of traffic control tower at Frankfurt's airport

Europe's third-busiest hub

Frankfurt International Airport, run by operator Fraport, currently handles 235 pure freight flights per week in addition to 4,600 passenger flights - often with freight - in summer months. That amounted last year to nearly 487,000 takeoffs and landings. At envisaged full capacity Fraport had aimed for 700,000 flight movements and 90 million passengers each year.

Wednesday's ruling was made by the fourth senate of Leipzig's federal administrative court headed by judge Rüdiger Rubel. Last year, his judicial panel imposed clamps on the new Berlin-Brandenburg airport which is nearing completion. Its dead-of-night flights will also be largely banned, between midnight local time and 5 a.m.

ipj/msh (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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