Top German firms launch ‘new era’ of cargo flights on SAF

Lufthansa, DB Schenker's carbon neutral cargo flights between FRA and PVG is estimated to save 174 tonnes of regular kerosene each week.

Air & Cargo Services air cargo Air Cargo Asia air cargo freight Air Forwarding air freight Air Freight Asia Air Freight Logistics air freighter air freighting Air Logistics Asia Air Shipping Asia airlines cargo airways cargo asia cargo news cargo aviation DB Schenker DHL Dorothea von Boxberg Jochen Thewes Lufthansa Cargo

Photo credit: Lufthansa Cargo AG / Oliver Rösler

Air freight can now be transported with zero carbon dioxide tailpipe emissions, DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo claim after both companies jointly launched the first regular carbon neutral cargo flight in history on 1 April, Thursday, April Fools, not kidding.


The airline’s B777F took off of at 9:14 hours (local time) from Frankfurt (FRA) bound for Shanghai Pudong (PVG) to jump start the weekly flights on sustainable aviation fuel, which is expected to save around 174 metric tonnes of conventional kerosene each week.

“As of now, carbon neutral supply chains are also feasible with air freight,” said 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.”

With the forwarder and airline partnership showing it can be done, Thewes recommends t business and politics now take charge to create more capacity for regenerative fuel and clean aviation.

Also read: DHL Express paves path to zero emissions with Shell SAF deal

The weekly volume of SAF procured for this cargo flight corresponds to 174 metric tonnes of kerosene, which is about the amount needed for the roundtrip connection to Shanghai. But for technical and legal reasons, Lufthansa noted, it is currently not possible to fuel an aircraft with SAF only. It is blended with conventional kerosene via the airport’s refuelling system and consumed in proportion by all subsequently refuelled aircraft.

Currently, SAF is about three times more expensive than fossil kerosene and the quantity available on the market is limited. The German transport leaders are calling on other companies in the logistics industry as well as politicians to jointly expand production and infrastructure for sustainable aviation fuel and drive forward decarbonisation in logistics.

Lufthansa says there will be 20,250 tonnes less greenhouse gases in its summer flight schedule, which starts on 28 March. And of this, around 16,200 metric tonnes will be avoided from direct combustion in the engine. Participating customers—Mercedes-Benz, ZF and Merck—can credit carbon footprint reductions on a pro rata basis.

“With the world’s first sustainable cargo flight with DB Schenker at the end of 2020, we demonstrated that flying without fossil emissions is already possible,” said Dorothea von Boxberg, Lufthansa Cargo chief.

“Today, 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,”she concludes.

At the fueling station at Frankfurt Airport (Photo credit Lufthansa Cargo AG / Oliver Roesler)

Shipping by air transport without greenhouse gases (Photo credit: Lufthansa Cargo AG / Oliver Roesler)

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