Lufthansa Cargo said it will stop diverting freighters to Cologne Airport to avoid a night flight ban at its Frankfurt hub, saying the diversion is too costly and has resulted in a loss of customers.
An MD-18 freighter stationed at Cologne for flights to the U.S. will also be recalled to Frankfurt when the summer schedule starts on March 25.
Lufthansa Cargo diverted freighter flights to Asia and North America via Cologne/Bonn airport after a local court ban on flights at Frankfurt between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. local time came into effect at the end of October.
Lufthansa Cargo has since obtained daytime slots for its freighters at Frankfurt, but a spokesman said nighttime flights remain of “utmost importance” for the carrier.
Lufthansa has lost customers because it can no longer deliver express cargo to the U.S. in the early morning. It says a permanent ban would cost the airline around $52 million a year as freight would have to be rerouted to airports offering 24/7 operations.
An administrative court in Leipzig will begin a hearing on March 13 to decide whether the ban, imposed to curtail aircraft noise, should remain in place.
Lufthansa says it can resume night flights in June or July if the court rejects the ban.
The carrier warned last year it might have to ground its entire fleet of 18 MD-11 freighters if the ban becomes permanent.
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