German flag carrier Lufthansa is set to operate its first-ever 100% carbon neutral cargo flight on Sunday. The flight will be performed by a Boeing 777F aircraft and will travel to Shanghai and back from the airline’s main Frankfurt hub.
Before the current situation, the sustainability of aviation was the industry’s top priority. While it has understandably given way to public health, that doesn’t mean that it has been thrown on the back burner. Instead, airlines are still working on ways to make their operations more sustainable, making use of the time that their fleets are on the ground.
First carbon neutral freight flight
This weekend will be an exciting one for Lufthansa. While the airline frequently operates cargo flights to Shanghai, Sunday’s flight will be with a difference. LH8406 will depart from Frankfurt at 08:10, flying non-stop to Shanghai, where it is expected to land at 01:55. After two and a half hours, the flight usually continues onto Seoul before returning to Frankfurt an hour later.
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The flight will stand out from the airline’s other flights, as it will be the first 100% carbon neutral freight flight operated by the airline. To move away from fossil fuels, the flight’s fuel requirements will be solely met by Sustainable Aviation Fuels.
However, this flight is not a one-off publicity stunt. The airline will use the flight to highlight the need to improve the production and infrastructure needed by Sustainable Aviation Fuels. Lufthansa Cargo will regularly operate carbon neutral flights from the summer 2021 flight schedule.
Commenting on the flight,
“With this flight, we are committed to the increased research and use of SAF so that sufficient quantities of the alternative fuel will be available in the future… Lufthansa Cargo takes its corporate responsibility very seriously and is actively taking measures to meet this responsibility and relieve the environment.”
What is Sustainable Aviation Fuel?
You may be wondering how Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) help the environment. After all, when they are burnt, they still produce CO2. The difference is that, rather than fossil fuels that have been locked in the ground for many years, SAFs are an active part of the carbon cycle. The CO2 given off by the flight will have been taken in by the plants used to create the SAFs when they were grown. Equally, the next batch of crops will also take carbon out of the atmosphere.
However, CO2 is still generated, producing, and moving the fuels. To make its flight truly carbon natural, Lufthansa is planting trees in deforested areas to take this carbon out of the atmosphere.
SAFs remain a relatively novel product. Large scale infrastructure is currently lacking, meaning that they are produced in small quantities. This means that they are more expensive than regular fuel, and in turn, the money to improve the infrastructure doesn’t come in.
What do you make of Lufthansa’s first CO2 neutral freight flight? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!