Lufthansa Group’s fuel efficiency improves slightly in 2011 as it continues to decouple traffic and consumption
Tue 24 July 2012 – The specific fuel consumption of the Lufthansa Group fleet declined from 4.20 litres per 100 passenger kilometres (l/100 pkm) in 2010 to 4.18 l/100 pkm in 2011, an improvement of 0.4 per cent. This was achieved despite a fall in the group-wide seat load factor by 2.0 percentage points to 77.6 percent. Kerosene consumption across the Group increased by 6.7 per cent to 9.024 million tonnes but the number of passenger kilometres flown increased by 8.3 per cent. This, says Lufthansa, is indicative of its continuing successful efforts to decouple transport performance from its fuel consumption. Overall Group CO2 emissions increased to 28.4 million tonnes in 2011 from 21.3 million tonnes in the previous year. Lufthansa was recently presented with Airline Business magazine’s Strategy Award for environment in recognition of its biofuels programme.
“As one of the largest companies in world aviation, we have defined environmental care as a top-priority corporate goal and continued our ambitious fuel efficiency programmes despite the current difficult business climate,” writes Lufthansa Group CEO Christoph Franz in his introduction to this year’s ‘Balance’ sustainability report. “To reach the climate protection goals we have set ourselves, we will continue to optimize systematically.”
The small improvement in the Group’s overall fuel consumption performance last year was largely down to the contribution of Group member airlines SWISS and Austrian Airlines, which managed to lower their specific kerosene consumption slightly to 3.72 and 4.18 l/100 pkm respectively. However, the performance of Lufthansa German Airlines, which consumes nearly three-quarters of all fuel in the Group, declined from 4.25 l/100 pkm in 2010 to 4.27 in 2011.
Specific fuel consumption by the Group’s fleet has gradually fallen from 4.65 l/100 pkm in 2001 to last year’s 4.18 and while transport performance has grown by 328% since 1991, kerosene consumption and CO2 emissions have increased by 188%.
Despite its improving fuel efficiency performance but because of its growing CO2 impact, the report says the Group will have to acquire EU ETS certificates for about 30% of its CO2 emissions in 2012. With fuel consumption accounting for more than 20% of the Group’s operating costs in 2011, it says it does not need the added incentive of the EU ETS to keep CO2 emissions as low as possible. Lufthansa says the EU ETS should be suspended to allow for negotiations at ICAO on a global solution to succeed.
The Group says the major element in stepping up its climate protection strategy is the investment in modern aircraft and is currently engaged in the biggest fleet renewal programme in its history. By 2018, it reports, 168 new, fuel-efficient and low-noise aircraft will have joined the fleet. As the launch customer, the new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, 15% more fuel-efficient and 30% quieter than the 747-400 predecessor, entered into Lufthansa service in June.
Given the high-profile noise night restrictions in place at Frankfurt and other German airports, the Group’s environmental strategy is geared to continuously reducing aircraft noise levels in cooperation with industry, the authorities, universities and research institutions. Besides modifications to existing aircraft, noise-reducing operational procedures are being implemented, including continuous descent approaches at Frankfurt.
In further efforts to reduce its long term environmental impact, Lufthansa points to its pioneering work over the past year on sustainable biofuels. From July to December 2011, Lufthansa carried out 1,187 flights with a biofuel and conventional kerosene mix between Hamburg and Frankfurt, saving around 1,500 tonnes of CO2, it reports. In January this year, the airline conducted the world’s first transatlantic commercial flight, from Frankfurt to Washington DC, with a 747-400 tanked with a biofuel mix of around 40 tonnes.
Earlier this month, Lufthansa picked up Airline Business magazine’s Strategy Award in the environmental category in recognition of the burnFAIR biofuel research project. Although the programme has ended, Lufthansa is now focusing efforts on the suitability, availability, sustainability and certification of biofuel raw materials. This includes investigating the feasibility of planting camelina, a plant grown traditionally in parts of Europe, on Russian farmland that has been abandoned after numerous crop failures.
Last year also saw cooperation by Lufthansa in the launch of the fourth IAGOS (In-service Aircraft for a Global Observing System) research project, which aims to establish an infrastructure for global observation of the earth’s atmosphere from in-service aircraft.
Commenting on the report’s publication, and in a pointed reference to rising national aviation taxes, Franz said sustainability required business success. “Only by earning profits can a company invest in climate and environmental protection, and exercise its social responsibility as an employer.”