Frankfurt To Get Fourth Runway With Limits

Jan 16, 2009
Jens Flottau/Frankfurt jflottau@freenet.de

Frankfurt's international airport has been cleared for expansion by Hesse's Administrative Supreme Court.

The airport can soon begin to build a fourth runway north of the current airport perimeter with an opening date of 2012. But Fraport and main operator Lufthansa also have to deal with the court's preliminary statement that the planned night flight restrictions are not far reaching enough.

Frankfurt airport has been trying to expand for many years. Its growth rates have been below industry average because of the capacity limits. Lufthansa transferred a significant part of its long-haul growth to Munich, now its second hub. The fourth runway will only be used for landings to take into account noise abatement. It will nevertheless enable the airport to increase hourly movements from around 80 to over 120.

Ground work is planned to begin as soon as early February, according to Fraport plans. The airport also wants to open a third main terminal on the South side of the airport in 2012. It is not clear yet who will use the facility, but Lufthansa is expected to remain in the main terminal 1.

A final decision on the night curfew will be made separately. But the court indicated that it will likely not uphold the currently planned regulation. The regional government wanted to allow 17 movements between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. in spite of the fact that in a previous agreement with communities it had promised a total ban on night flights. Lufthansa has applied for a total of 41 nightly movements, mainly for its subsidiary Lufthansa Cargo.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that while it welcomed the decision to expand, "severe restrictions on night flights constrain international cargo operations and will hurt economic growth. This should be reconsidered in a future court ruling."

Photo: Fraport AG

AVIATION WEEK Copyright 2009, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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