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Frankfurt Airport Nightly Closure: Economic Impact Term Paper

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Updated: Jun 4th, 2020


The Anti-noise movement in Germany led to the curtailing of the night flights at Frankfurt airport resulting is economic and operational issues. Banning of nightly flights from the airport adversely hit the freight cargo movement that occurs mostly at night. In this light, the present paper traces the legal and social developments that led to such an obstruction by airlines. This brings forth the development and hindering factors for environmental mediation in Germany. This paper essentially studies the anti-noise campaign against Frankfurt airport and the legal battle that preceded the closure of the airport at night-time. This paper is a case study of Frankfurt airport that faced the recent obstacle of closing down its night-time operations that would hamper its revenue. Strikes occurring to stop the noise pollution caused by airlines were considered to have cost the airport 40 million euro (Bryan, 2012). This loss accrued only due to a two-day strike.

There the ultimate legal battle that followed, actually resulted in a permanent closure of the airport at night. This too supposedly has an adverse effect on the financial performance of the airport. This paper aims to present the chronological events that resulted in the closure of the airport in 2011 from 2300 hrs to 0500 hrs. The lawsuits and the ultimate law that resulted in such closure will be discussed in the paper. The paper is a case study of the Frankfurt airport and the effect of the nightly closure order passed by the courts in Germany that was effect from 21 October 2011.

The night-time ban on the operation of flights in Frankfurt airport was effective in 2012. The German court upheld this decision to ban night flights from Frankfurt airport in order uphold the demands of anti-noise campaigners. The ban was upheld in an administrative court in Leipzig (AFP, 2012). The immediate effect of the ban was that 17 flights from the airport were affected. This ban was just provisional as further review was to occur on the 133 flights operating at 2200 hrs t0 2300 hrs and 0500 to 0600 hrs in the morning. In terms of loses this ban is supposed to cost €40 million for Lufthansa Cargo, a freight division of Lufthansa Airline every year. This ban also reduced the share prices of the airport operator Fraport by 2.15 percent and that of Lufthansa fell by 4.41 percent.

Economists believe that not only the airfreight industry but also the tourist and passenger industry is likely to be hit by the nightly ban. Therefore, the economic effect of the ban of the night flights in Frankfurt airport was huge. This ban of the night operations at the airport will affect air freight industry to a great extent. Many like the International Air Cargo Association believe that “the decision will damage the city’s reputation as one of the world’s premier gateways for international trade and harm the local and national economy.” (Tenders Info, 2012) The judgment not only stopped all flights from 2300 hrs to 0500 hrs but also reduced the number of flights permitted one hour prior and after the curfew period. This decision is a problem for the operations of the airlines as there is a tough fight to receive night-time slots in busy airports. As explained by TIACA chairman Oliver Evans that

Slots are a major battle ground for airlines at major airports across the globe and in recent years to satisfy the requirements of passengers, all-cargo operations have been pushed into the hours of the day, and usually the night, when passengers don’t want to fly. The air cargo industry has adapted to this and made it work. Today, night-time cargo flights are part of a seamless supply chain that means consumers and businesses can plan their stock levels and production schedules with confidence. This is now at risk. (Tenders Info, 2012)

Many believe that the reason for the decision of the court was to protect the environment and reduce noise pollution. However, critics of the judgment believe that with this the environment was facing greater risks as there is expected to be higher level of environmental hazards due to increased “trucking activities if all- freighter carriers were compelled to utilize other airdromes at the same time there may be price rise for everyday stuff for consumers because of elevated expenses of supply chain.” (Tenders Info, 2012)

Therefore, there is estimated to be a higher economic loss due to the court orders. This order came at a time when the airport was on an expansion drive with the fourth terminal. The aim of the paper to understand the underlying reasons for the demand for the noise caused in the airport to lead to a legal battle. The result of the legal battle was the courts ordered the closure of the airport at nights. This resulted in a lot of financial loss to the airport.

Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt airport is an important airport in Europe and is one of the major air traffic hubs in the world (Fraport AG, 2012). In 2011, the airport reported to have serviced 96.6 million passengers and total air cargo movement of 2.5 million metric tons (Fraport AG, 2012). In April 2012, passenger development of 1.7 percent of the same month in 2011 and a fall in cargo traffic by 10.3 percent (Fraport AG, 2012). Frankfurt Airport is the largest airport in Germany. It was founded in 1924. Then it was named as Südwestdeutsche Luftverkehrs AG (Fraport AG, 2012).

The airport is an important regional and international hub. Of all the flight movements 10 percent occur at nighttime. Presently the airport has 53 million passenger transport and 2.5 million tons of cargo transport. By 2020, this figure is expected to go up to 701,000 movements with 88 million passengers and 3 million tons cargo movement. Actually, the airport has inaugurated a fourth runway in 2011 in anticipation of the increase in movement in the airport.

The campaign against the airport started in 1998 with the formation of the Regional Dialogue Forum Frankfurt Airport (RDF) related to the discussion on the development of the airport (Schreckenberg, Meis, Kahl, Peschel, & Eikmann, 2010). The RDF comprised of the people representing various parts of the society, trade, unions, local church, regional industry, local authorities, etc. The RDF mainly aimed at understanding the feasibility study of the aircraft noise and its effect on the community in the vicinity of Frankfurt Airport carried out in 2004-06 and the harmful effects of the noise to the community were ascertained. Research has shown that there is harmful effect of the aircraft noises on local inhabitants (Schreckenberg et al., 2010). However, this poses a lot of pressure on the supply chain management of the businesses that require night-time airport. In Germany, the issue of aircraft noise had become a politically charged issue of public debate by 2000, which led to the legal battle between the advocates of airport expansion and the local interest groups.

The legal battle was concluded with the court ordering Frankfurt airport to close down its night-time operations from 11 pm to 5 am in the morning and restricted and reduced number of flights 1 hour prior the curfew started (Brecke, 2012). However, this decision was going to affect many airline companies especially Lufthansa who had their cargo transportation hub at Frankfurt airport. Night-time traffic is sensitive for freight and cargo transport and is an important time for business. But the decision to stop night flights was also supported by the prime minister of Hessen, Volker Bouffier and Rhein in a political battle for vote bank. Nevertheless, in this bargain, the losers were the airlines who had to change their whole operations and had to wait to see passenger and customer response with the new time schedule.

Airport catalyst for local development

Further, Frankfurt airport is believed to have a lot of impact on the general environment and community of the city. A case study made in 1999 demonstrated that the overall impact the airport had on the community of Hesse. This case study actually just looked into the improved “air connections on the productivity of the wider economy” (AIC, 2004). The case study demonstrated that Frankfurt Airport was the source of 19991 thousand jobs and in terms of total value creation it created 424.6 billion DM. Therefore, the airport has a wide economic impact on the society and therefore, a loss of operations and consequently profit would affect the development of the city.

Environmental Campaign

The environmental campaigns started in 1987 in accordance with the World Commission on Environment and Development presented a report named Our Common Future. The main idea imparted in the report was that of sustainable development to the community. Sustainability of development actually implies that the present development should not be acquired at a greater cost (TUT, 2000a). Based on this, it can be denoted that sustainable development should be built maintaining ecological balance, equity in social structures and versatile economy. Though it is important that the very society should lie, the foundation for the achievement of the principles of sustainability as this development has to stand up to varies political, social, and economic facets of culture. However, in a neoliberal world it will not be wrong if one said that not always does development in technology or business go hand in hand with ecological balance. Historically, how development has been biased against ecological and social balance is observable through the annals of history.

Use of natural resources and rampant exploitation of the abundant resources nature has bestowed upon us is usually used in a highly controversial and debatable manner. Mitchell (1998, p. 20) rightly points out, “… a society has different groups with different values, interests, hopes expectations and priorities.” Therefore, handling disputes related to exploitative usage of natural resources or harming the environment definitely falls within this regulative capacity. The conflict allows the mode for distributing the cost and the benefits. Because environmental conflicts often have a direct impact on the basics of life, one must consider differences in the risk acceptability of affected people.

Germany is a country where democracy is regulated and to a great extent differentiated. Holzinger (1997, p. 2) points out that “virtually all major environmental disputes in Germany end up in court.” Further, he also points out that “the authorities responsible for environmental matters in Germany are finding it increasingly difficult to make or implement acceptable decisions about projects with major environmental consequences without provoking intense conflicts.” (1997, p. 2) Based on this overview, the alternative option for settling stakeholder dispute on issues related to environment such as anti-noise campaign, gathers high interest in the public domain. Using mediation as a technique of solving issues is considered to be a process of procedural justice however, there are too many stakeholders participating actively in the decision-making process.

The Process of Dispute Resolution

In Germany, a common phenomenon is that most of the conflicts related to environmental issues are brought to court. However, seldom does a court decision satiate all the stakeholders, even if they are the winners in the conflict. In case of Frankfurt Airport dispute related to the anti-noise campaign the medium used for mitigation was alternative dispute resolution (Mitchell, 1998).

Alternative dispute resolution procedure of mediation increase participation of stakeholders and participation in dispute resolution among the locals who face the major impact of environmental. This form of mediation is also expected to promote greater sustainable usage of natural resources: “… violence and loss of life, damage to physical property or financial loss.” (FAO, 1998, p. Part E).

Therefore, the degree of participation of the localities in the mitigation process of environmental disputes was based on the procedure. As Mitchell (1998) points out that this procedure “distinguishes four different types of ADR procedures: public consultation, negotiation, mediation, and arbitration” (Mitchell, 1998, p. 222). The only advantage that is derived out of these dispute resolution procedures is that “… attention to interests over positions, persuasion rather than coercion, joint agreement rather than imposed settlement, constructive communication rather than negative criticism, shared commitment to reach long lasting settlements and the effective use of information” (Mitchell, 1998, p. 222). The potent point in this respect is that the resolution that is derived out of the resolution process is mutually beneficial in which case all the stakeholders get a fair benefit out of the process and their criteria is fulfilled to a certain extent (FAO, 1998, p. Part E).

Frankfurt Airport Expansion

The current ban of the night flights from Frankfurt airport by the courts is the product of a larger social, political, and economic movement in Germany. Many such incidents have been experienced in the country in the 1960s and 1970s. The activists protesting against any expansion proposal felt that the expansion and development movement was influenced by foreign capitalists and will not necessarily be beneficial to the economy, as this would increase inequality. Similar observation was made in the 1970s expansion of the Frankfurt airport was made when the airport reaching its full capacity, had proposed to make a third runway. Similar situation again was observed in 2000s when the airport, again reaching its full capacity, had to make its fourth runway. At this point, it was the environmentalists protested, as this would mean more noise pollution in the locality. Neighbouring towns of Walldorf-Morfelden that already experienced high sound pollution due to the airport would be subjected to greater noise with the fourth runway. Further, environmental concerns also escalated as the project was expected to take place in the neighbouring forest area. Therefore, a lobby of environmentalists and local interest groups tried to lobby the government of teh state of Hesse.

In 1997, the CEO of Lufthansa Airlines, Dr. Jürgen Weber, proposed the need to expand Frankfurt Airport. The reason was the airport would reach its capacity limits soon enough. This decision was supported by the chairman of the executive board of Frankfurt Airline Wilhelm Bender (RDF, 2011). This suggestion was extended and the state government’s suggestion of an “open-minded mediation” was started.

The decision to expand Frankfurt airport and increase another runway was met sceptically by environmentalists and local people. The reason was the increased noise pollution of the aircrafts that hampered the health of the locals. As the airport is one of the leading air cargo arrival departure airports in Europe and only second largest in passenger transit in the continent, the importance of the airport can hardly be overlooked. The airport is located in Frankfurt, Germany, close to the Rhein-Main region of the city. As the airport is an international hub, it connects more than 281 destinations. In 2011, the airport registered 487,162 airplane movements from the airport (Fraport AG, 2012). In total, the movement of passenger airplanes had increased by 6.4 percent in 2011 while that of cargo and freight had declined by 2.4 and 2.8 percent respectively.

The runway was required in order to meet the increased pressure and traffic in the airport. This airport first underwent an expansion in 1984, which too met heavy opposition from environmentalists. The reason for the opposition was again from the residents living close to the airport who were seriously affected due to the heavy noise pollution of the aircrafts. Apart from this, environmentalists were also concerned with the heavy impact on the environment due to this expansion. The protest was mainly due to the slaughter of the forest close to the airport due to expansion. On the other side of the conflict were those who believed that an airport expansion will increase capacity, and therefore, business of the airport and this would definitely spill over to the society.

However, when the airport expansion was proposed in the 1999 for Frankfurt airport, the conflict that arose was of similar nature. As the authorities were aware of the public and local reaction to the proposal of airport expansion, the proposal was tabled in front of the local stakeholders for a process of inexpensive and non-violent mediation. The aim of the mitigation group was to clarify the following: “Under what prerequisites could the Frankfurt airport contribute to the safety and the enhancement for the stability of the economic-region’s capacity with regard to workstations and structure elements, without disregard to the ecological charges for the settlement areas?” (Fraport AG, 2012) Most of the local interest groups and environmentalist groups participated in the process of mediation. Those who did not put forth the argument that a process of mediation ensured the possibility of the expansion to take place which they were totally opposed to and were not ready for any discussion on the issue. The process of mitigation took over a year to be concluded and local authorities were invited to participate in place of those who did not want to join the process. In 2000, the mitigation body presented its recommendations regarding the expansion of the airport in the form of a package. The components of the package were:

  1. A new runway to be constructed to increase capacity of the airport
  2. System optimization
  3. Night flights are to be banned.
  4. An anti-noise pact was to be reached and signed by both the parties.
  5. A forum is to be set for the mediation dialogue to continue.

Now that the new runway has already been created, the problem that arises there has been a ban enforced by the court on night-time flights. Even though the whole process started with a process of mediation, there has been an unrest after the recommendation of the mediation committee had been passed.

Public consultation in Germany

The procedure of public consultation and environmental sustainability assessment was achieved through UVP in Germany. This is a bureaucratic procedure, which requires to be conducted for ascertaining environmental sustainability assessment. This allows the locals and the public to gain information and express their concerns regarding the environmental hazards. This allows a social and environmental evaluation from the legal point of view, after judging all the facts and claims made by the claimant in the proposal declaration. However, some critics believe that “such a formal defined participation structure is not sufficient to address the complexity and the conflict potential of environmental conflicts” (Marker & Schmidt, 1999). In other words, they believe that these procedures are just relics of an overly bureaucratic system. As pointed out by Holzinger (1997, p. 2) that: others see them as ecologically blind instruments which systematically favour economic interests.” In addition to this, there is a legitimate procedure laid down for the administration and the claimant negotiates the claims with the opposing party. Based on this, a formal permit is awarded. In this ground, additional participation was essential.

The Frankfurt airport mediation was important and more successful as technical representation was also taken. This provided the right platform for the discussion of the environmental issues related to building the new terminal. Further, the mediation also lead to various scientific research and understanding that would lead to the development for more eco-friendly technology usable for the airport expansion process. this mediation also prevented the bias and bilateral informal coordination which usually lead conflict of interest and aggravation of a mediation process. Therefore, the mediation adopted in the Frankfurt airport expansion process was innovative in nature.

However, the lobby opposing the expansion of the airport were not fully satisfied with the process of mediation as they felt it was a biased process.

Conflict of Interests

There was a deep-seated conflict of interests that arose after the proposal to expand the airport was tabled. The conflicts had its roots deep seated in the social, technical, economic, and emotional history of the region. The conflict arose from the inherent elemental values of the two parties, one that of the airport developmental perspective and the other from the safeguarding of the environment perspective. As the distribution of the cost and benefit was unequal, the complexity of the stakeholder involvement was higher. As the issue was increasingly complex, a simple form of face-to-face negotiation wouldn’t have sufficed the development of the situation. Instead, this may have aggravated the animosity. Therefore, the best plan was to provide a definitive negotiation process. The following process was suggested:

In 2000, the procedure was concluded with the “mediation package”, a basis that is still accepted by practically all the parties in the conflict. The mediation package resulted in the establishment of the Regional Dialogue Forum for Frankfurt Airport, which led the dialogue in the airport region from 2000 to 2008. On the initiative of the state government of Hesse, regional stakeholders and the general public were integrated in a structured opinion-forming process. (IFOK, 2012)

Further, the expansion of the airport was one that was to affect the global air transportation business and therefore it was a global as well as a local project. Therefore, this project would affect the global economy as well as the local establishments. Therefore, equity based on the space and not only local concept must be applied to the project. As this is a project that would affect the global air transport of Frankfurt being the international hub.

Structure of the Mediation Group

The mediation group formed in 1998 was formed of 21 groups. Six were representatives of the economic section, which included Lufthansa AG, Flughafen AG, Deutsche Flugsicherung, IHK (Chamber of Commerce), and VHU (Hesse Business Organization) (Garcia-Zamor, 2001). The other groups participating in the mediation process were:

The unions were represented by: Gewerkschaft O¨ ffentlicher Dienst, Transport U. Verkehr (O¨ TV) and Deutsche Angestellten Gewerkschaft (DAG). All three levels of governments also had representatives in the mediation group. Nine cities participated: City of Darmstadt, Wiesbaden, Offenfach, Frankfurt/Main, and five other communities. The State of Hesse was represented by officials from: the Ministry of Economics, Transportation, Urban and Regional Development and the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Forest…. However, only one citizens’ action group participated: the Offenbach Coalition Against Noise. (Garcia-Zamor, 2001, p. 424)

The citizen’s action groups refused to participate in the mediation process as their absence allowed the government representatives and the business people to set the agenda for the meeting. This made the mediation process weak as all voices were not equally represented.

The three mediators who commenced the meetings were: “Professor Kurt Oeser —a former well-known environmentalist and pastor of the German Protestant Church, Dr. Frank Niethammer —President of the Frankfurt Chamber of Trade and Commerce, and Professor Klaus Ha¨msch—former President of the European Parliament.” (Garcia-Zamor, 2001, p. 424)

The questions that were asked in the mediation process that set the agenda for the meetings were as follows: “how can the Airport develop and grow without impairing the environment and the quality of living in the region too much?” (Garcia-Zamor, 2001, p. 424). However, whether the project would be initiated or not was not in the agenda of discussion of the group. In all, the mediation group discussed three questions

What role does Frankfurt International Airport play in the development of the economic and living conurbation Rhine-Main, especially in the field of economic, transport, and employment policies?… How does the Airport influence the environmental situation of the Rhine-Main Area?… In which way should Rhine-Main-Area develop between the years 2012 and 2020 and what status should the Airport have within this process? (Garcia-Zamor, 2001, p. 425)

Given these questions that were discussed in the mediation group the conclusive aspects of the mediation process was done.

Seeking a creative result

The innovative mediation process used for tackling the airport expansion proposal was intended to be mutually beneficial. The mediation process was thought to be a farce by the local interest groups as their main points of discussion were on ban of night flights and environmental issues, and they know that a mediation process will not solve these issues. Therefore, they were actually sure that legal procedure has to be sought in order to make their demands met. They were not ready to trade off their demands against anything. The mediation process was one sided as there was only one representative from the anti-expansion movement and there was a great deal of the subjectivity in the way they attained their understanding of the issue. Further, no representation of the anti side of the debate led to only the formulation of the understanding of the problem from the point of view of the advocates of the proposal and therefore, the question whether this project should be allowed or not was not even considered as a question.

Airport Expansion Legal battle

Alois Riechl, the Hesse Minister of economics, transport, and state development, signed an agreement of “zoning decision of airport expansion” on 18 December 2007. According to this agreement, the new runway was to be built by 2011, and presently, it has been completed on 2011.

A regional planning procedure (ROV) was established to examine the viability of the airport expansion. The main element of the procedure was “the Regional Planning Compatibility Review (e.g., residential developments), and the Environmental Compatibility Review (e.g., woodland and space consumption). The ROV is a government internal administrative harmonization process, which, however, also involves the public.” (RDF, 2011)

The ROV was started in October 2001 and the report of the committee was presented on 10 June 2002. The report stated the following:

… regional planning compatibility can be achieved with the submitted Northwest runway option and the new manoeuvring areas to be constructed in the south of the airport. In practical terms this meant that as soon as the conditions called for by the Regional Planning Evaluation Report were met, zoning request could be filed for both the Northwest runway project and for the new Terminal 3…. However, the third option investigated, a Southern takeoff and landing runway, did not comply with the regional plan and was thus dropped from further review. (RDF, 2011)

The zoning procedure (PFV) is a legal procedure in Germany through which approval and permission for zoning is obtained. In accordance to the zoning procedure, the proposal of airport expansion is studied specifically with an outlook to ascertain its effect on the environment and taking into account, the environmental evaluation obtained during the alternative dispute resolution process.

In the zoning procedure, the stakeholders involved were the examining authority, planning authority of the region, authorities of Frankfurt airport, local civic body members, technical authorities, local residents, environmentalist, and zoning applications (RDF, 2011).

Once the application was documented it was filed with the Darmstadt Administrative District Board on September 9, 2003 (RDF, 2011). The documents stated the “reasons for the planned expansion but also contained a request to restrict scheduled flight operations at FRA between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. when the new runway goes into operation.” (RDF, 2011) The administrative body of the district reviewed the documents and the documents were asked to be expanded by Frankfurt Airport in 2004. The district board provided suggestions as to how the documentation may be improved. In 2004, the Darmstadt Administrative District Board acknowledged the complete submission of the documents.

The documentations that were submitted for the examination of by the district authority were as follows:

The application documents prepared by Fraport AG included some 20,000 pages of text, around 1000 drawings and maps and 40 expert opinions, as well as the complete technical planning of the facilities needed for capacity expansion… The submitted documents also focus on key issues such as environmental compatibility, aircraft noise and the night flight ban, as well as safety issues. The zoning documents were handed to the examining authority to be made available for public inspection in 57 local communities and for a total of 327 public authorities, associations and others. (RDF, 2011)

The zoning committee’s reports are actually the zoning decision, which would either approve or disallow the expansion plan, and the decision is legally binding the airport authorities. In December 2008, the Hesse Minister signed the decision.

Cost of Night Ban

This section will discuss the various aspects of the costs that had to be incurred due to the decision to ban night flights from Frankfurt Airport. This section will first show the benefits that the Frankfurt Airport brought to the city and the effect the night ban has caused to the financial performance of the airlines and the airport as well as the negative spill over to the local community.

Development due to the Airport

The airport expansion process did not face an outright opposition from the locals. In 2000, a poll taken of the neighbouring locals showed that majority of them supported the airport expansion process (Garcia-Zamor, 2001):

According to a poll conducted in October 2000 by the Ipos polling institute that was commissioned by the city’s most important newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 52% of those polled said they favour the construction of the additional runway and 33% said they oppose it. (Garcia-Zamor, 2001, p. 423)

Therefore it must be

Further, the airport provided employment to a large number of localities and seriously affected the local economy. The total employee in the organization as of Annual report 2011 was 20595 out of which 18391 were Germans. Therefore, local employment was very high for the airport. This definitely advanced to the local community and advanced the economy of the local areas.

Risks associated with non-Expansion

As the airport was reaching its optimum capacity, non-expansion would have increased the air traffic but without sufficient infrastructure to support the increased traffic. This would have increased the risk of plane chasses. This aspect was not debated upon during the heated public debates on Frankfurt Airport expansion. However, this fear was surfaced in 2000:

But the tragedy of the Concorde crash in the summer of 2000 has given new impetus to those who oppose the expansion of what is already an extremely busy airport with up to 1,700 takeoffs and landings a day. The day after the Concorde crash, some Hessian communities demanded that a ‘‘risk analysis’’ for the airport be undertaken. (Garcia-Zamor, 2001, p. 426)

A plane crash showed to the residents the risks non-expansion of the airport posed to the local lives. However, the local interest groups were not deterred as they pointed out that an annual increase of number of flights from 45000 to 60000 would also increase the chances of crashes in the locality.

However, the incident of the Concord crash raised this issue and the opposing group drew out a risk scenario.

Financial Burden

The closure of the night flights poses a great deal of financial burden to the airport, airline companies, and the local community. This section will show how the ban on night flights affected the scenario.

Growth in Aircraft movement
Figure 1: Growth in Aircraft movement

Figure 1 shows the slump in the overall aircraft movement post the nighttime ban on flights in Frankfurt airport. Only the cargo movement information is used as at nights the flights that usually operate are cargo flights. This shows that the cargo flights were adversely affected from Frankfurt airport due to the ban of the night flights. The information has been derived from the traffic movement reports provided in the website of Frankfurt airport (Fraport AG, 2012). In 2012, from January to April, the air traffic report presented in the website shows that passenger carrying section had observed a boost in the traffic by 3.3 percent while that of cargo (which includes mail and freight) reduced by 11.4 percent.

There was as slump in overall movement by 1.4 percent (Fraport AG, 2012). Practitioners believe that a ban on the night flights will affect the cargo segment most as pointed out by Oliver Evans of TIACA: “The danger is that the decision made in Frankfurt could be repeated at other major gateways. If this happens, it is not only the air cargo that will suffer. Local communities around those airports and national economies will also pay a higher price, both financially and environmentally.” (Karp, 2012). Therefore, understanding the effect of the night ban on the cargo movement is essential.

Cargo movement from 2008 through 2011
Figure 2: Cargo movement from 2008 through 2011

Cargo movement usually took place at nighttime. With the ban of the night flights from the airport, this segment has been strongly hit. There was a total of 2251618 tons of cargo in 2011 there was a decline in the cargo segment of 2.4 percent.

Lufthansa one of the main air transporters and the biggest cargo transporter from Frankfurt Airport has been negatively affected due to the night ban. The decision to ban night flights has affected Lufthansa’s cargo division, especially to the Gulf countries (Bryan & Maushagen, 2012). This is believed to have an adverse affect on business in Germany as a whole. This ruling of banning night flights would give other international airports such as Heathrow in London or Amsterdam or Dubai airport (Bryan & Maushagen, 2012). Once the ruling was given out, the share prices of Lufthansa declined: “The ruling hurt shares in Lufthansa and Fraport, with Lufthansa down 4.6 percent at 1424 GMT and Fraport losing 2.4 percent.” (Bryan & Maushagen, 2012).

With the new change in the flight schedule, Lufthansa management is apprehensive of the customer response to the flight plans and believed that the cargo division would incur great losses, as “… it was impossible to relocate from its Frankfurt hub, where it also uses the belly space in Lufthansa passenger aircraft.” (Bryan & Maushagen, 2012).

The overall economy of Germany would be affected due negative impact of certain airline’s cargo and passenger divisions. Some business will be apprehensive to bring business due to the recent demonstration of political and local interest group pressure on airport expansion and ban of night flight. Apart from the financial losses that the banks would incur, there would be greater problems with the business in the country. Due to lesser business, the airport may have to incur losses too, which would affect the airport’s employability, which in turn would affect the local employment level. Further, tourism would also be affected with changes in the flight timings.

Though the ruling did not shut the new runway that was started in October 2011, but the ban of night time flights affected the cargo flights that operate only at night. The tourism industry representatives feel this will affect tourism industry in Germany adversely: “German tourism association DRV and airline Condor, owned by tour operator Thomas Cook, said the decision would also hit tourism hard. Many tour operators use the shoulder hours for flights to fly holiday-loving Germans to sunny destinations.” (Bryan & Maushagen, 2012). Evidently, the economic and financial burden posed by the night flight ban was greater than the possible environmental benefits.


The row over the expansion of the airport in Frankfurt airport started for the second time in the last century in 1997 when the proposal was first tabled. A mediation committee was formed to discuss the pros and cons of the project and listen to the arguments to all interest groups. However, this mediation process could not be proper as the local and environmentalist interest groups stayed away from the mediation process. This resulted in an outrage when the airport went ahead with the expansion process, and the battle reached the courts as observed earlier in Germany. The courts ordered the night ban of the flights and this resulted in adverse operational and financial burden to the airport and the aircraft operators. Further, fear lingered on the repercussion on other such expansion project in Germany and other parts of Europe, where similar opposition would be faced. However, when the night ban was enforced in October 2011, there was a great slump in the traffic of cargo aircrafts in Frankfurt airport.

The slump was not due to the economic recession in Europe but rather due to the forced change in operations of the aircrafts who perforce had to change their flight schedule before the night curfew on the airport begun. There has been evidence from the traffic performance of the airlines and the traffic that operated from the airport, as shown in the paper, demonstrates that the night ban on the airport had serious repercussion on the operational performance of the airport and consequently their financial performance. Airlines like Lufthansa believe that they have to change their whole passenger and cargo schedule just because of the ban and others believe that this ban may have serious implications on such expansion programs in other airports. In addition, the tourism industry too is expected to be affected due to this ban. Therefore, the question remains that if the ban is fruitful for the local or a bane in terms of financial loss.


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IvyPanda. (2020, June 4). Frankfurt Airport Nightly Closure: Economic Impact. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/frankfurt-airport-nightly-closure-economic-impact/

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"Frankfurt Airport Nightly Closure: Economic Impact." IvyPanda, 4 June 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/frankfurt-airport-nightly-closure-economic-impact/.

1. IvyPanda. "Frankfurt Airport Nightly Closure: Economic Impact." June 4, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/frankfurt-airport-nightly-closure-economic-impact/.


IvyPanda. "Frankfurt Airport Nightly Closure: Economic Impact." June 4, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/frankfurt-airport-nightly-closure-economic-impact/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Frankfurt Airport Nightly Closure: Economic Impact." June 4, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/frankfurt-airport-nightly-closure-economic-impact/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Frankfurt Airport Nightly Closure: Economic Impact'. 4 June.

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