German air cargo industry seeks night flights
A coalition of German logistics associations and air cargo airline interests plan to mount a campaign to educate the German public about the importance of the logistics sector to the country's economy as part of an effort to win government support for night flights at airports.
Opposition from environmental groups and local residents to aircraft noise has led several German states to try to curtail late night flights. Logistics providers are concerned that shippers will begin to use alternative gateways with more competitive operating conditions to transport goods to the rest of the world.
About 40 percent of the value of total German exports is transported by air.
'The right of local residents to be protected from unnecessary noise is not an issue,' said Carsten Spohr, Lufthansa Cargo chairman and chief executive officer, during a press conference Wednesday at Frankfurt Airport to announce the initiative, according to a Lufthansa news release.
'We accept our responsibility as an airline and we are investing massive sums in new technologies. At the same time, we are responsible for thousands of jobs in the logistics industry in Germany, which is an export and industrial nation. Germany is the world's second-largest exporter — thanks above all to its logistics expertise. Anyone who shuts down central logistics hubs at night is acting irresponsibly and putting the future of viability of Germany's export industry at risk,' he said.
Lufthansa Cargo operates a large freighter fleet in addition to passenger planes.
Last year, Chancellor Angela Merkel's new governing coalition agreed to initiate legislation that would limit the power of federal states to ban or restrict night flights at airports within their jurisdiction. Several courts have ruled in favor of the nighttime bans.
The government aims to support the air freight sector through airport infrastructure enhancements and to 'guarantee internationally competitive operating hours,' Jan M'cke, the parliamentary state secretary at the Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development, said at the press conference.
Coalition members, such as the Association of German Forwarders and Logistics Operations, worry that without a more balanced policy shippers could source shipments from other countries, or route them through other countries to take advantage of more freight friendly airports such as Amsterdam, Paris, London and Madrid, and Gulf states such as Dubai that compete with Germany on Asia/Europe and Asia/U.S. routes.
Spohr said air cargo providers need the certainty of night operations before they are willing to make long-term investments in an area. Earlier this year, Lufthansa reconfirmed it will postpone further investment in a new logistics center at its Frankfurt hub until it receives a guarantee that it will be able to operate a minimum of 23 night flights. The Hesse state government has ruled that night flights there must be reduced. ' Eric Kulisch