DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo have launched a regular carbon neutral cargo flight connection between Europe and China, what they say is the first of its kind.

    Using a Boeing 777F the weekly flights between Frankfurt am Main and Shanghai Pudong are covered entirely by using Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). This will reportedly save around 174 metric tons of conventional kerosene each week.

    DB Schenker’s CEO, Jochen Thewes 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.”

    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”.

    Lufthansa Cargo CEO, Dorothea von Boxberg, added : “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.”

    The weekly volume of SAF procured by DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo corresponds to 174 metric tons of kerosene, which is about the amount needed for the connection to Shanghai and back. However, it says that 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 tons will be ensured during Lufthansa Cargo’s summer flight schedule. Of this, around 16,200 metric tons will be avoided from direct combustion in the engine. The participating customers, including Mercedes-Benz, ZF and Merck, 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.

    MRO Americas 2021