Air transport connects people, countries and cultures around the world. Its economic importance is enormous, it drives employment and it ensures the fast and reliable flow of goods. At the same time, it has undesirable effects on climate and the environment. For the Lufthansa Group, this goes hand in hand with the responsibility to reduce the environmental impact of our business activities to the unavoidable minimum – in the air and on the ground.
Broad range of activities to reduce CO2 emissions
The Lufthansa Group has defined demanding CO2 reduction targets: the carbon footprint should be reduced by half by 2030 compared with 2019, with carbon neutrality the objective for 2050. To reduce CO2 emissions, the Lufthansa Group is consistently pursuing a four-pillar strategy. It comprises technological, operational and infrastructural measures as well as supplementary economic instruments.
The most important driver for reducing CO₂ emissions from flight operations is investing continuously in modern, particularly fuel-efficient aircraft and engine technologies. At the same time, efficient concepts for take-off and landing are being implemented and the digitization of approach technologies advances.
Through targeted cooperations, the Lufthansa Group is vigorously advancing key technologies for the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF). The focus is on kerosene based on waste materials, ligneous biomass and renewable electrical energy (Power-to-Liquid – PtL). Before the aircraft of the Lufthansa Group airlines can use alternative fuels, a number of basic requirements must be fulfilled. They include above all reliable quality specifications, sustainability in production and along the supply chain, and economic efficiency, of course.
The Lufthansa Group is continuously expanding its cooperations for an intelligent and efficient linking of different modes of transport. Deutsche Bahn and Lufthansa already offer 134 daily feeder trains to Frankfurt Airport from 17 German cities. In the second half of 2021, another five cities will be added. In addition, new Sprinter connections will make their debut from December. The rail journey between Munich and Cologne will be shortened to less than four hours. From and to Munich and Nuremberg, there will be direct trains to Frankfurt Airport twice a day in three and two hours respectively, with no additional stops in between - half an hour faster than today and precisely timed with the departure and arrival times of flights at Lufthansa’s hub.
By involving its customers as well, the Lufthansa Group wants to accelerate the transformation of the industry. The offset platform Compensaid, which the Lufthansa Innovation Hub launched in 2019, was refined and integrated into the flight booking process for all Lufthansa Group airlines in 2020. It can be used by travelers to substitute SAF for the fossil fuel required for their flight. In addition, The Lufthansa Group has partnered with the well-known carbon offset provider myclimate and with Climate Austria for Austria for more than ten years. The Lufthansa Group itself has been offsetting the carbon emissions of all employees’ business flights around the world since 2019.
Economic measures to protect the environment are vitally important as long as sustainable aircraft fuel is not available in sufficient quantities. The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), which was concluded with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in October 2016, seeks to offset growth-related CO₂ emissions in international air traffic using climate protection projects from 2021 onwards.
The EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) for air traffic has managed and limited CO₂ emissions by way of certificate trading since 2012. All flights carried out by the Lufthansa Group within the European Economic Area (EEA) are subject to this system. Combining the EU ETS with the emissions trading scheme for Switzerland (CH ETS) means that as of January 2020 emissions certificates also have to be provided for flights between Switzerland and the EEA and for flights within Switzerland.
In 2020, 34 fuel-saving projects were under way across the Group. These projects comprise activities relating to performance and procedures, weight reduction, flight route optimization and technical developments. In addition to the reductions achieved in recent years, they made it possible to permanently avoid another 52.6 thousand tonnes of CO₂ emissions in the reporting year. The quantity of kerosene saved amounted to around 16.7 thousand tonnes - this is equivalent to approximately 196 return flights between Munich and New York with an Airbus A350-900 aircraft.
In 2019, the aircraft of the passenger fleets needed only 3.67 liters of kerosene on average to transport one passenger over a distance of 100 kilometers (2018: 3.65 l/100 pkm). Since 1994, the Group has been able to reduce specific fuel consumption by as much as 30 percent.
1 Definitions of traffic areas:
Long-haul more than 3,000 km; Medium-haul 800 to 3,000 km; Short-haul under 800 km.