Lufthansa Cargo and DB Schenker start first CO2-neutral freight flights

Frankfurt to Shanghai and back with complete coverage by Sustainable Aviation Fuel

On 29 November 2020, a cargo flight will take off for the first time in commercial aviation, whose fuel requirements will be completely covered by Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). Lufthansa Cargo’s Boeing 777F will take off from Frankfurt to Shanghai at 8:10 a.m. local time under flight number LH8406 and then returns to the Hessian metropolis. This first CO2-neutral freight flight is made possible by a cooperation between DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo. The logistics service provider and the air freight company will transport goods from Siemens Healthineers AG, among others, on this flight.

DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo are committed to sustainable air transport and agreed in November 2020 to exchange views on environmental issues and to jointly promote them – including the move away from fossil fuels in air freight transport.

With the start of the 2021 summer flight schedule, DB Schenker will offer greenhouse gas-neutral air freight as a regular product. 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.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) refers to sustainable, synthetic kerosene. It is currently produced mainly from biomass, for example from 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.

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By using SAF, the fossil CO2 emissions of 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.

In addition, 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.

The SAF used can be added to conventional kerosene as a so-called drop-in fuel and is therefore practical and suitable for everyday use without the need for adjustments to the aircraft and the supply logistics chain. For this reason, a quantity of SAF corresponding to the fuel requirements for the flights from Frankfurt to Shanghai and back is fed into the refuelling system at Frankfurt Airport. Each aircraft subsequently refuelled from the fuel depot receives and physically consumes a small amount of SAF. However, the CO2 avoidance achieved in this way is credited in full to Lufthansa Cargo and DB Schenker.

This is the first step in a joint effort agreed in November to move away from fossil fuels in aviation. The aim of the cooperation is, among other things, the regular exchange of information, the promotion of environmentally friendly technologies such as SAF. DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo combine the start of their first CO2-neutral flights with a call to shippers, logistics providers, air freight carriers and also politicians to work together on expanding production and infrastructure and thus improving the availability of sustainable aviation fuel. Both companies are leading the way and will regularly offer CO2-neutral air freight as a product for the shipping industry from the summer flight schedule onwards.


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