Lufthansa Cargo Ends Cologne Night Flights

February 8, 2012

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Lufthansa Cargo will stop diverting flights via Cologne to skirt a night flying ban at its Frankfurt hub as the attempt has proven uneconomical, the company said on Wednesday.

The company had introduced a stopover in Cologne/Bonn for flights over Russia and China to comply with the ban, which was imposed in October after the winter schedule had already been agreed.

With the new summer flight plan on March 25, it has been able to negotiate new daytime slots from Frankfurt, Germany's largest airport, and will also return a freighter to the hub from Cologne, which it had stationed there to serve North American routes.

Opponents of night flights welcomed the news, saying it proved that Lufthansa Cargo did not need night flights.

"Freight in Frankfurt does not need the night, but people in the Rhine-Main area do need their sleep," local Green politician Tarek Al-Wazir said.

Lufthansa Cargo said the ban between 11pm and 5am local time is costing it EUR€40 million a year and has lost it a huge amount of customers, as it means specialist freight can no longer arrive in the United States early in the morning.

"It's not a sign that we're giving up on night flights," a spokesman said. "If the court allows night flights, then we could start them up again in June or July."

An administrative court in Leipzig is due to rule in March whether the night flight ban should stay in place.

Lufthansa Cargo transported around 1.9 million tonnes of freight and mail in 2011. Among the consignments being flown into Frankfurt in 2012 will be 30 million roses for Valentine's Day, it said on Wednesday.

(Reuters)