Lufthansa: Nighttime restrictions threat to freighters
Lufthansa is warning that restrictions on nighttime flights at Frankfurt Airport could be disruptive to its cargo business.
Last week Reuters quoted Lufthansa Cargo Chief Executive Carsten Spohr as saying “everything that goes toward a single-digit number (of flights allowed per night) would mean that it no longer pays off to have our own cargo fleet.” he said late on Thursday.
Spokesman Stefan Hartung told American Shipper Tuesday that “if a total night flight ban between (11 p.m. and 5 a.m.) would be imposed, yes, we would have to ground the freighter fleet.” He added that half the company’s 4,600 jobs worldwide would be endangered.
He said with a night flight ban, forwarders in short- and midterm would move the night-freight to places like Charles DeGaulle Airport in Paris or the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
“And if they do so with the night-freight, why would they keep another hub for the day-freight? So the whole logistics system in Frankfurt is in danger and then our business model of the close connection between freighter and belly would not be profitable anymore,” he said.
Spohr made his comments against the backdrop of discussions about the future of night flights at Frankfurt. The German state of Hesse has said that as part of a deal allowing the airport to open another runway in 2011, night flights should be limited to an average of 17 between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. to reduce noise. Hartung said today there are about 40 flights during that period from all airlines.
“Nighttime operations are essential for Lufthansa Cargo as we are transporting goods for the global economy, which needs, to a certain extent, the offer of flights leaving at night to transport goods quickly to other continents and keep them in the global supply chain,” Hartung said.
“For example, companies are producing spare parts for the industry in Europe or Frankfurt, drop them in the evening at Frankfurt 90 minutes before takeoff, and can pick up them in the U.S. in the morning at 6 o'clock when the early shift needs them in the production chain again.” he explained.
“Same is valid for Asian destinations, of course with a delay of one day. And due to the huge belly connections at Frankfurt, night flights are being feedered from all over Europe. That is also the reason why Frankfurt today is one of the most important hubs in the EU and in the world — No. 2 and No. 8.”
He said Lufthansa’s flights at night vary seasonally and that the company does not comment on the actual number. But he confirmed Lufthansa projected it would have 23 passenger and freighter night flights by 2020.
Lufthansa has a fleet of 19 MD-11F freighters. Due to the recession, two are grounded in Victorville, Calif., and another in Leipzig.
In September a fourth aircraft will be grounded, he said, adding that the company’s operating freighters are underutilized, with the equivalent of about two MD-11 in overcapacity in its current network. ' Chris Dupin