Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board of Lufthansa Cargo, has made it clear that, in the event of an absolute ban on night flights in Frankfurt, the business model of Lufthansa Cargo would be seriously threatened and that, as a result, gradually both the MD-11 fleet and up to 50 percent of the company’s jobs worldwide could be endangered.
"Apparently some of the political and legal authorities have simply no idea of what the ‘threat to our existence’, which provided evidence of during the proceedings, really means. In really concrete terms it would mean that with the coming into force of an absolute ban on night flights, Lufthansa Cargo - and also the complete logistics location of Frankfurt - would be pulled into an irreversible downwards spiral which would result from a reduction of the cargo tonnages, incl. the shift of traffic and jobs abroad. Our business model, in which we closely coordinate bellies and freighters in Frankfurt and operate optimally, would no longer be profitable here."
Asked about a possible shift of the freighter fleet, Spohr said: "A shift of the fleet would not be economically feasible! Unfortunately, this discussion is opened up repeatedly - however, it is and remains a layman’s discussion. In Munich a ban on night flights is already in force. Why, therefore, should we shift our freighter fleet in response to a ban on night flights in Frankfurt to an airport at which a ban on night flights already exists? Although Leipzig is a modern airport with a good infrastructure and approval for night flights, a logistics system consisting of freighters, bellies, many global players and manufacturing industry as in Frankfurt, does not exist there. Hahn. Not only is there only one runway and frequent fog there, which makes an operation unstable, the networking of freighters and bellies would be completely absent here. In Hahn, besides the inadequate infrastructure on the spot an additional 47,000 truck journeys per year would be required, which would generate extra costs and be an unnecessary burden on the environment - not to mention the noise pollution for people living beside the road and the negative effects on competitiveness of the lost time.
To put a final end to the location discussion: for us and the exporting nation of Germany, there is no domestic alternative to Frankfurt. If you close down here at night, the forwarders will increasingly fly their freight abroad in freighters and bellies via Paris, Amsterdam or other major European airports. And, if they can do that for 24 hours, why should then stay with the "Day Freight" in FRA of all places and have to operate several transhipment centres?"
Spohr expects the State of Hesse to lodge an appeal against the decision: "I cannot believe that Hesse will simply accept the dismantling of the logistics location, which would be the inevitable result of a ban on night flights. And I also cannot imagine that Germany, as the world’s leading export nation will simply close its largest airport at night and bid farewell for six hours to the worldwide freight streams. Therefore, we are also asking the Federal Government that it stands by its statements which it had itself re-emphasized only a few weeks ago in its Airport Concept for Germany and to also permit demand-related flights during the night. It would be really grotesque if four flights were to be permitted during the night at Kassel-Calden in the provinces for the three freight forwarding agencies located there, while the mega-hub of Frankfurt with over 250 logistics companies, would be forced to close down at night."
In passenger and freight traffic, he said that Frankfurt was one of the most important hubs in the world and Germany’s only airport with a "360 degree offer". Frankfurt Airport made a considerable contribution to ensuring that Germany is, and will continue to be, one of the most powerful economic and export nations worldwide. "That must remain so and, therefore, it is astonishing that the court in Kassel reached a decision which is so contrary to the will of the Federal Government", said Spohr.
"We are building on the fact that the airport concept of the Federal Government is not a mere paper tiger, but will be applied for the benefit of the exporting nation of Germany. Then the federal political and economic importance of our industry that is documented there must also be reflected in the actual legislation".