Lufthansa Cargo and DB Schenker operated a flight between Frankfurt and Shanghai whose fuel requirements were completely covered by Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), the first time in commercial aviation.


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Lufthansa Cargo's Boeing 777F took off from Frankfurt to Shanghai on November 29 under flight number LH8406 and then returns to the Hessian metropolis.


The logistics service provider and the air freight company transported goods from Siemens Healthineers AG, among others, on this flight.


"DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo are committed to sustainable air transport and agreed in November 2020 to exchange views on environmental issues and to jointly promote them - including the move away from fossil fuels in air freight transport," it said in a statement.


Promoting climate change protection


Lufthansa explained: “SAF refers to sustainable, synthetic kerosene. It is currently produced mainly from biomass, such as sustainable or recyclable vegetable and cooking oils. In future, non-plant-based renewable fuels will also be available.


“The best-known production process for this is the so-called power-to-liquid concept (PtL), based on renewable electricity, water and CO2. By using SAF, the fossil CO2 emissions from a flight with conventional kerosene are completely avoided. During combustion in the engine, only CO2 is released that was previously removed from the atmosphere, for example during plant growth,” it added, noting that SAF is thus the first real alternative to fossil aviation fuel and the key to climate-friendly, CO2-neutral air traffic.


DB Schenker has committed to offering greenhouse gas-neutral air freight as a regular product in its 2021 summer flight schedule.


“We are already further ahead than many think when it comes to climate protection in air freight,” said CEO Jochen Thewes. “As a logistics provider, DB Schenker is the link between the loading industry and the airlines in order to actually implement climate protection in air freight.


I am convinced there is a great demand for this type of green transport and I am looking forward to seeing who will follow suit.”


Lufthansa Cargo chief Peter Gerber said the carrier was committed to increasing its research on, and use of, SAF.


“Even in the most severe crisis that has ever hit aviation, Lufthansa Cargo and DB Schenker are facing up to their responsibility for climate protection," said German minister of transport and digital infrastructure Andreas Scheuer.


“This is an important signal right now that the companies are looking to the future, despite all the concerns, and are taking important steps to make aviation more sustainable.”


DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo are also using a reforestation project to compensate for the CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases that result from the production of the biomass, processing and transport of the SAF. This ensures that the flights are completely greenhouse gas-neutral overall.