They kept their word: On 29NOV20, the two logistics enterprises operated their first CO2-neutral scheduled flight from Frankfurt to Shanghai and back. On the occasion of the event, top managers from both companies announced that regular CO2-neutral flights would take place once the 2021 summer schedule commenced. And that is exactly what is happening.
An announcement made real
Last Thursday (01APR21), a Lufthansa Cargo B777F flew from Frankfurt to Shanghai. On board: consignments belonging to car producer Mercedes-Benz, automotive supplier ZF, and pharmaceutical group Merck, among others. These shippers belong to the avant-garde of the industry that have opted for climate neutral air transportation of their products, offered by DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo which operate scheduled weekly CO2 emission free flights.
However, being a pioneer is always a bit more expensive, at least at the beginning. That is certainly the case when it comes to Sustainable Aviation Fuel, as this is currently about three times costlier than burning fossil kerosene, so transport rates are substantially higher. This is also due to the fact that SAF is only produced in small quantities, leading to limited availability on the market. On the other hand, however, the higher kg rates paid for ecofriendly SAF flights are likely to be recouped through reputational gains as companies are able to market their green credentials to the public.
Substantial CO2 savings
In their joint press release on 01APR21, Lufthansa Cargo and DB Schenker reconfirm their intention to operate one CO2-neutral flight per week, made possible by fueling a B777 freighter with SAF. This will save around 174 tons of conventional kerosene each week, the protagonists say. During the course of the current summer flight schedule, i.e. until the end of OCT21, this will save 20,250 tons of greenhouse gases which would otherwise have been emitted had fossil fuel been used.
Although the flights themselves are CO2-neutral, polluting gases are set free during the production and transport of SAF. However, these are entirely compensated by DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo through offset projects, both enterprises assure.
Zero sum game
Despite rising demand, Sustainable Aviation Fuel is currently still a niche product. It mainly stems from biomass waste, such as used vegetable and cooking oils. Thus, when burned in an aircraft engine, the same amount of carbon dioxide is released which was previously removed from the atmosphere during the original growth of the plants. Because of this limited availability, Lufthansa Cargo and DB Schenker appeal to politicians in their joint press release, to pave the way for increasing SAF production through supporting measures including the infrastructure required.
This state backing is paramount to driving decarbonization in logistics forward, emphasizes Jochen Thewes, CEO of DB Schenker: “Our weekly flights between Frankfurt and Shanghai are the kick-off of a new era. We are proud to have already convinced so many customers of this future-orientated product. Next, business and politics have to take charge to create more capacity for regenerative fuels and clean aviation.”
Clean(er) aviation is a must
Despite the positive response from DB Schenker’s customers, more companies need to join the SAF bandwagon to put the project on a broader footing, he stresses. Dorothea von Boxberg, CEO of Lufthansa Cargo, echoed the same message: “We jointly launched the world's first regular sustainable cargo flight connection. This paves the way for many more connections of this kind. We are counting on the determination of our industry and the dedication of consumers to get this off the ground together.”
That means, in plain text, that the two logistics companies will have to do a lot of networking in the coming weeks and months in order to get other shippers on board their SAF flights.
DB Schenker succeeds in Malaysia
Meanwhile, in other news; DB Schenker recently announced on LinkedIn that it has won an important spare parts logistics and last mile fulfillment contract in Malaysia from a leading global healthcare customer. As part of the agreement, the logistics giant will deliver spare parts for medical equipment to all hospitals and medical clinics across the southeast Asian country.
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