DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo launch weekly carbon neutral cargo flight connection

DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo will now operate a weekly cargo flight from Frankfurt to Shanghai that will utilise SAF to run completely carbon neutral.

DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo launch carbon neutral cargo flight

Credit: DB Schenker

Air freight can now be transported with zero carbon dioxide tailpipe emissions following DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo launching the first regular carbon neutral cargo flight connection in history on 1 April 2021.

With the take-off of a Boeing 777F at 09:14 on 1 April 2021, the companies kicked off weekly flights between Frankfurt and Shanghai Pudong, where the fuel requirements are covered entirely by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). This will save around 174 metric tonnes of conventional kerosene each week.

Jochen Thewes, CEO of DB Schenker, said: “As of now, carbon neutral supply chains are also feasible with air freight. 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.”

Dorothea von Boxberg, CEO of Lufthansa Cargo, said: “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. 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.”

Sustainable aviation fuel is produced mainly from biomass waste, such as used vegetable and cooking oils. Thus, when burned in the engine, the same amount of carbon dioxide is released which was previously removed from the atmosphere during the original growth of the plants.

In addition, greenhouse gases produced during the manufacture and transport of the fuel are fully offset by sustainable compensation projects. This ensures that flights are completely greenhouse gas neutral.

The weekly volume of SAF procured by DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo corresponds to 174 metric tonnes of kerosene, which is about the amount needed for the connection to Shanghai and back. However, for technical and legal reasons, it is currently not possible to fuel an aircraft with SAF only. Therefore, the SAF is blended with conventional kerosene via the airport’s refuelling system and consumed proportionally by all subsequently refuelled aircraft.

In total, greenhouse gas neutrality of 20,250 metric tonnes will be ensured during Lufthansa Cargo’s summer flight schedule. Of this, around 16,200 metric tonnes will be avoided from direct combustion in the engine. The participating customers can credit their reduced carbon footprint on a pro rata basis.

Currently, SAF is about three times more expensive than fossil kerosene and the quantity available on the market is limited. With the launch of the sustainable freight flight connection, DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo are reiterating their call to other companies in the logistics industry, as well as politicians, to jointly expand production and infrastructure for sustainable aviation fuel and thus drive forward decarbonisation in logistics.

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