Munich residents have voted against development of a third runway at Germany's second-biggest airport, dealing another blow to airlines seeking growth in Europe's biggest economy.
Just over 54% of polled voters were against the new runway at Munich Airport and 45.7% in favour, according to preliminary results of the vote on June 17.
Airlines such as Lufthansa and Air Berlin have already been hit by a ban on night flights at Germany's biggest airport, Frankfurt, and delays to the opening of a new airport in Berlin.
Munich Airport CEO, Michael Kerkloh, said: “The fact that a relative majority of Munich residents voted against the construction of a third runway shows how difficult it has become to make clear the significance of important infrastructure projects in our country.”
Business leaders in Britain have urged the UK government there to rethink its opposition to the developed of a third runway at Heathrow airport, which is operating at almost full capacity.
Hong Kong has approved construction of a $17.5 billion third runway at the city's airport.
A German district government ruled in favour of the €1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) project in Munich 12 months ago.
But the city of Munich, which owns 23% of the airport, polled residents on whether it should use its veto power to block the airport expansion, which the airport's operator has said would create about 11,000 new jobs.
Munich Airport says the new runway is necessary to meet growing demand for air travel.
Lufthansa said the outcome of the vote was “regrettable” and warned it could shift investments elsewhere, if it cannot add capacity in Munich, one of its two German hubs.
Munich Airport handled 38 million passengers last year and expects that figure to rise to more then 50 million in 2015, due to a €650 million expansion of its Terminal 2, some 40% of which is being financed by Lufthansa.