Kassel, Germany - A bid by authorities to permit a few night flights at Frankfurt international airport failed Tuesday, with German administration judges ruling that the authorization was illegal.
Germany's biggest airport and its key tenant, Lufthansa, have been hampered by a complete ban on take-offs and landings between 11 pm and 5 am each night, although freight customers have clamoured for early-hours shipping of air parcels for urgent delivery.
Residents in the flight paths have successfully blocked night flights, arguing their sleep would be disturbed.
The administrative tribunal in Kassel made public Tuesday its decision the previous day that the authorization in a planning document of 17 air movements per night was void.
Lufthansa Cargo, the airline's air-freight unit, said the ruling had wrecked its planning to handle a surge in parcels traffic in the Christmas gift-giving season. 'It means a serious financial loss to us,' a company spokesman said.
Foreign governments had already authorized the 11 scheduled nightly airfreight connections that were to have benefited from the exemption, he added.
Frankfurt Airport is sometimes choked by air traffic in the daytime. While passengers dislike small-hours arrivals and departures, cargo moves at all times and the night-flight ban affects air scheduling worldwide.
As a stopgap, some cargo operators have sought to use remote rural airports in Germany where there are few neighbours to complain.
Authorities of the German state of Hesse are expected to seek some other method to authorize the flights using Frankfurt's new third main runway, which is due to be commissioned on October 21 and will bring plane noise to yet another part of the metropolitan area.
Lufthansa had objected to an earlier assurance by politicians to voters that night movements from its home base would not be allowed.