Frankfurt-Main hit by shock night ruling
The long-running saga of just how many night-time flights will be allowed to operate through Frankfurt-Main International airport took a dramatic turn last week, when the local Hesse state court ruled to ban all scheduled movements at the gateway between 2300 and 0500 hours.
A spokesman for Fraport, the gateway's operating authority, said that the decision had come as a complete surprise to the operator and other stakeholders in the airport's operations. He noted that the fourth runway, which is 2,800 metres long and will handle only landings, was never intended for night flights anyway.
The spokesman was also quick to point out that the judgement of the Hesse court will be superseded by any subsequent ruling made by Germany's highest federal administrative high court in Leipzig, which is expected to announce its decision early next year.
In a statement, Fraport observed that the decision will mean "cancellation of some internationally coordinated slots already allocated to airlines", pointing out also that only 19 days remain until the start of the new winter 2011/12 schedule.
The statement noted: "This creates a very difficult situation for the airlines, the cargo shippers, Fraport and, of course, passengers - and it has implications for the worldwide network of flight connections."
Lufthansa Cargo, the operator with the most at stake in regard to night-flying through Frankfurt, also quickly made its dismay at developments very clear, describing not only the decision but also its timing - so near to the opening of the winter schedule - as both surprising and shocking.