A ban on night flights at Frankfurt airport in Germany will force flag carrier Lufthansa to withdraw its service to Cape Town this winter. Departure delays would have seen even more passengers stranded overnight.
Germany's Lufthansa carrier announced on Wednesday it would drop all flights to Cape Town from Frankfurt airport during the winter schedule. It said the move would be unavoidable due to a strict ban on flights after 11 p.m. at Germany's otherwise busiest airport.
Lufthansa argues that ban which was imposed eight months ago left no leeway when it came to weather or medical delays and had already resulted in over 10,000 passengers being stranded overnight in Frankfurt.
"Cape Town will no longer be served from Frankfurt this winter, because we can't leave our passengers stranded," the flight operations chief of Lufthansa's passenger airline division, Kay Kratky said in a statement.
Looking elsewhere for investment
Kratky cited a recent example of a Johannesburg-bound plane being forced to turn around on the Frankfurt runway after a problem with loading a container had caused a slight delay.
Lufthansa announced that its Cape Town flights would be shifted to Munich as a temporary solution for the winter period. But the Bavarian airport has just seen expansion plans voted down by residents opposing a third runway.
"Munich will start hitting the bottleneck in three, four or five years," Kratky said, adding that for the time being Lufthansa was glad to have the option to shift flights there.
The flag carrier has repeatedly warned that the restrictions in place at Frankfurt would lead it to invest elsewhere to seek growth. "Our ability to compete depends on being able to scale up," Kratky stressed.
hg/mz (dpa, Reuters)