Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Meeting net zero goals through innovation

Meeting net zero goals through innovation

Lufthansa Cargo has embraced the need to move towards sustainable solutions over the past 25 years, improving their efficiency and cutting specific CO2 emissions by 52%. However, as a global logistics company, Lufthansa Cargo recognises that more still needs to be done to make the aviation sector more sustainable. By 2030, Lufthansa Cargo wants to halve its net-CO2 emissions (compared to 2019) and by 2050 they want to achieve net-zero.

Furthermore, they have validated SBTi targets for which the Lufthansa Group reduces its specific CO2 emissions by 30.6% in 2030. Ambitious goal settings, such as the SBTi, requires creating the spirit and mindset to meet those targets. The organisation must be adapted to cope with this added layer of complexity. In all those aspects, they have made significant progress and are on the right trajectory to meeting those targets. In terms of fleet development, Lufthansa Cargo is already using best-in-class freighters and will complement this with orders for the new 777-8F as soon as it becomes available.

Lufthansa Cargo searches for and implements fuel efficiency measures, such as the optimisation of flight routes. It doesn’t stop there, however. Lufthansa Cargo has looked to invest into lighter loading devices and accessories such as nets, which saves fuel and helps to reach its goals. “Beyond these steps, the use of SAF is an important instrument which we use to reduce the carbon footprint,” Brian Kowalke, Senior Environmental Manager at Lufthansa Cargo, said.  

Keeping ahead 

Innovation is of great importance for Lufthansa Cargo in order to expand its position in the industry in the future. Lufthansa Group was among the earliest to test Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in operations over 10 years ago and has a few aeroplanes equipped with additional instruments that helps understand atmospheric composition. 

When it comes to SAF and its adoption, together with its customers, Lufthansa Cargo has been focused on operating SAF flights and investing in new technologies, such as Power-to-Liquid (PtL) based fuels. 

“We believe that we are frontrunners with a strong will to pushing the envelope even further,” Bettina Jansen, Head of Environmental Management at Lufthansa Cargo, explained 

Beyond thinking of sustainability as a sheer necessity, Lufthansa Cargo understands it is a value driver. 

“For over a decade we have had an environmental management strategy in place, and we are ISO 14001 certified worldwide,” Jansen continued.

SAF in the sector 

 “The industry is heading the right way. A few years ago, SAF was not an option, and we already discussed then how to decarbonise the sector,” Jansen said. 

With SAF available, Lufthansa Cargo has seen a massive interest amongst carriers, forwarders and shippers. 

Right now, the SAF supply is nowhere close to where the industry needs it to be. But early adopters, pioneers, and policies can certainly help to stimulate the required growth.

Competing on a global level, every player in any region brings something to the table.

“We must innovate to be able to compete, especially when it comes to saving CO2. Also, the policies put in place by governments (for example in the EU or the US), help transitioning away from fossil energies, so we embrace the challenge and turn it into opportunities,” Jansen continued. 

Digitalisation drives sustainable solutions

“Data is king. And precise data, which can be captured manifold, requires both the tools and the skillset to run complex models,” Jansen said. 

In August 2023, Lufthansa Cargo and Kühne+Nagel launched a pioneering digitisation initiative on their Asian routes. Together, they achieved a milestone by electronically transporting 100 percent of general cargo documents between Germany and Hong Kong, introducing the first “paperless route”. This marks the beginning of “paperless corridors” promoting efficient and environmentally friendly transportation between Europe and Asia.

The vision is to gradually expand these paperless corridors, with the ultimate goal of creating a seamless paperless transit corridor for general cargo between Europe and Asia, completely eliminating physical documentation. This strategic initiative not only streamlines the airfreight process, but also significantly strengthens the sustainability agenda within the industry.

Picture of James Graham

James Graham

James Graham is an award-winning transport media journalist with a long background in the commercial freight sector, including commercial aviation and the aviation supply chain. He was the initial Air Cargo Week journalist and retuned later for a stint as editor. He continues his association as editor of the monthly supplements. He has reported for the newspaper from global locations as well as the UK.


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