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Freighters have now joined the green revolution, in Germany anyway, with the first 777F set to make a CO2-neutral flight.
Lufthansa Cargo will operate a flight between Frankfurt and Shanghai on Sunday using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on both legs.
The flight is operated in partnership with DB Schenker, which agreed this month with Lufthansa to exchange views on environmental issues and jointly promote them. The flight will carry goods for Siemens Healthineers, among other companies.
Lufthansa explained: “SAF refers to sustainable, synthetic kerosene. It is currently produced mainly from biomass, such as sustainable or recyclable vegetable and cooking oils. In future, non-plant-based renewable fuels will also be available.
“The best-known production process for this is the so-called power-to-liquid concept (PtL), based on renewable electricity, water and CO2.
“By using SAF, the fossil CO2 emissions from a flight with conventional kerosene are completely avoided. During combustion in the engine, only CO2 is released that was previously removed from the atmosphere, for example during plant growth.
“SAF is thus the first real alternative to fossil aviation fuel and the key to climate-friendly, CO2-neutral air traffic.”
DB Schenker has committed to offering greenhouse gas-neutral air freight as a regular product in its 2021 summer flight schedule.
“We are already further ahead than many think when it comes to climate protection in air freight,” said CEO Jochen Thewes. “As a logistics provider, DB Schenker is the link between the loading industry and the airlines in order to actually implement climate protection in air freight.
“I am convinced there is a great demand for this type of green transport and I am looking forward to seeing who will follow suit.”
Lufthansa Cargo chief Peter Gerber added that the airline was committed to increased research on, and use of, SAF.
German minister of transport and digital infrastructure Andreas Scheuer said: “Even in the most severe crisis that has ever hit aviation, Lufthansa Cargo and DB Schenker are facing up to their responsibility for climate protection.
“This is an important signal right now that the companies are looking to the future, despite all the concerns, and are taking important steps to make aviation more sustainable.”
DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo are also using a reforestation project to compensate for the CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases that result from the production of the biomass, processing and transport of the SAF. This ensures that the flights are completely greenhouse gas-neutral overall.
Meanwhile, in the UK, prime minster Boris Johnson’s goal of a commercial transatlantic flight producing no carbon emissions by 2025 has been dismissed as a “gimmick”. His “Jet Zero” council has met just once and is said to be seriously underfunded.