A UPS refuelling truck at RFD © Dawid Swierczek

Shippers should urge their airfreight providers to consider emissions – and they could see a big CO2 saving by choosing secondary airports.

Research by Chicago Rockford (RFD), the upstart Illinois airport, shows aircraft use less fuel and emit less CO2 and other pollutants at smaller facilities like RFD than at major hubs.

“We looked at data based on the time it takes to take off and land, and found a significant difference between RFD and major hubs. At RFD, the average time is 16.9 minutes. At some major hubs, the average time is 106 minutes,” explained Ken Ryan, director business development.

“It’s mostly direct approaches to RFD, and just five minutes from wheels-down to engine-off. That makes for significant savings.”

RFD’s data, commissioned by an outside company, shows aircraft operating into RFD emit 75% to 76% less CO2 per rotation. A typical 747 freighter operating four times a week into RFD could save $8m in costs, emit 6,000 fewer tonnes of CO2 and 15,000 fewer tonnes of NOx – as well as burning 1,800 tonnes less jet fuel.

RFD is appealing to shippers to urge their forwarders to pressure airlines.

“This is an immediate step you can take, with immediate savings,” Zack Oakley, director planning and operations told The Loadstar at Transport Logistic in Munich. “We want airport selection to become a subject when it comes to CO2.”

He added: “It’s not just RFD; there will be other airports with similar findings. It’s worth comparing Liege with Schiphol, and Frankfurt Hahn with Frankfurt.”

It’s not just fuel burn that could be saved by less congested – or better laid out – airports. “Airlines can cut crew times, and make maintenance savings,” said Mr Oakley. “Many airlines pay for engines by the hour – and quick taxi-ing reduces usage time.”

RFD’s new taxiway is based around the cargo centre, so aircraft can immediately turn from the runway, with engines off in five to seven minutes.

“Sustainable aviation fuel won’t be widely available for a while, and from 2025 airlines have to pay for pollutants,” he added.

RFD also noted that it was some 30-minutes flight time closer to Anchorage than its larger neighbour O’Hare. Mr Ryan urged: “Shippers, please tell your forwarders to explain their airport selection process.”


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