Frankfurt’s air freight volume is falling faster than business at other European airports as the ban on night flights at Europe’s largest air cargo hub takes a toll on traffic.
Frankfurt Airport handled 6.5 percent less freight in December than a year ago. The drop came in the second month of the ban on night flights, which affects primarily freighter operations, and as Germany’s economy starts to falter under the European sovereign debt crisis.
The drop, to 167,970 metric tons, followed year-on-year declines of 10.8 percent and 9.3 percent in November and October, respectively.
The percentage decline in December was limited by comparison with the same month in 2010 when traffic was depressed by adverse weather conditions which disrupted flights.
The steep declines in the final quarter left 2011 traffic down 2.8 percent on 2010 at 2.17 million metric tons. This compares with unchanged traffic of 1.5 million tons at Amsterdam Schiphol and a 0.8 percent increase at London Heathrow to 1.85 million tons.
London Heathrow’s cargo tonnage soared 14.2 percent year-over-year in December.
“After the extraordinary gains of 2010, the air freight sector has increasingly felt the impact of the slowdown in the global economy during the course of last year,” Frankfurt Airport owner Fraport said.
The night flight ban, which mainly affects freighters flown by Lufthansa Cargo, will remain in place until at least March when Germany’s administrative court is scheduled to deliver a final ruling.
Germany’s government said this week the country’s economy likely contracted in the fourth quarter, triggering new worries that the broader European economy is slowing sharply over concerns about debt and the faltering euro on world currency markets.