Lufthansa Cargo may sell its entire freighter fleet if a court upholds a ban on night flights at Frankfurt airport, the carrier’s chief executive warned.
An administrative court in Leipzig is scheduled to rule on Wednesday whether a temporary ban on flights between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. that took effect at the end of October should be made permanent. The ban, imposed by a regional court following local residents’ complaints about aircraft noise, mostly affects flights by Lufthansa Cargo’s freighters.
The current solution of scheduling takeoffs and landings before 11 p.m. and after 5 a.m. is “just a stopgap. It costs money and does not pay,” Lufthansa Cargo CEO Karl Ulrich Garnadt told Germany’s Focus magazine.
Lufthansa Cargo eventually may have to dispose of its fleet of 18 MD-11 freighters if the ban is permanent, Garnadt said. Lufthansa has five Boeing 777 freighters on order. Aerologic, its joint venture with DHL Express, operates eight leased 777 freighters.
The carrier has estimated a permanent night-flight ban would cut profits by $54 million a year and reduce sales by some $133 million.
Lufthansa has postponed a final decision on long-term investment, including a new logistics center in Frankfurt, pending the outcome of Wednesday’s court ruling.
More than half of Germany’s air freight passes through Frankfurt, including 80 percent of Lufthansa’s worldwide cargo traffic.
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