Frankfurt - A ban on night flights at Frankfurt has caused
Lufthansa to withdraw its service to Cape Town this winter, the German national
airline said on Wednesday.
Imposed eight months ago, a strict ban on flights after 23:00
leaves no leeway when it comes to weather or medical delays and has resulted in
over 10 000 passengers being stranded overnight in Frankfurt since the ban took
effect, Lufthansa manager Kay Kratky said.
The night flight ban is an extra headache for Lufthansa,
which is currently cutting costs to battle low-cost competition and rising fuel
"Cape Town will no longer be served from Frankfurt this
winter because we can't leave our passengers stranded," said Kratky, in
charge of flight operations at Lufthansa's passenger airlines division.
He cited the example of a plane due to fly to Johannesburg
being forced to turn round on the Franfurt tarmac last Thursday night after a
problem loading a container.
Instead, the Cape Town flight will be shifted to Munich,
which itself has been dealt a blow to expansion plans after a proposed third
runway was voted down by residents.
"Munich will start hitting bottlenecks in three, four
or five years' time," Kratky, a former pilot, said. "But we have
those problems in Frankfurt now."
Lufthansa has previously warned the restrictions at
Frankfurt could lead it to shift investment elsewhere to seek growth. "Our
ability to compete depends on being able to scale up," Kratky said.