Lufthansa Group’s fuel efficiency reaches new heights as overall fuel consumption improves by nearly three per cent
Wed 12 June 2013 – The passenger airlines of the Lufthansa Group have recorded their best ever fuel consumption figures with a fall from 4.18 litres of kerosene per 100 passenger/km (l/100pkm) in 2011 to 4.06 l/100pkm in 2012, an improvement of 2.8 per cent. The Group’s absolute fuel consumption declined from 9.02 million to 8.88 million tonnes of kerosene over the same period, despite transporting more payload and passengers, emitting in the process 455,000 tonnes less CO2. Lufthansa attributes the continuing annual fuel efficiency improvement to its current fleet renewal programme, which will see over 200 new aircraft added to the fleet by the end of 2025. A new Fuel Efficiency department has been set up to find further fuel savings. The Group reports that even with the partial suspension of the EU ETS in 2012, the cost of the scheme for the year reached 50 million euros ($66m).
“In the overall context of our value-oriented corporate management, responsibility for climate and the environment has always been a top priority for us,” says Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz in his introduction to the Group’s annual Balance Sustainability Report just published. “The largest fleet renewal programme in the history of the Lufthansa Group means we are making perceptible progress in reducing emissions of pollutants and noise. When it comes to fuel consumption, economy and ecology go hand in hand. Therefore, it makes sense in all respects that we improve even further in this area.”
In addition to new aircraft models such as the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747-8 entering service, the Group has on order Boeing 777-300, Airbus A320ceo and A320/A321neo aircraft, with Lufthansa Cargo due to take delivery of the first two Boeing 777F air freighters at the end of this year.
The specific kerosene consumption (SKC) of the Group – which comprises Lufthansa German Airlines (Lufthansa including Germanwings and regional partners), SWISS and Austrian Airlines as well as equity shares in Brussels Airlines, SunExpress and jetBlue – declined in 2012 across all traffic areas. On long-haul routes it fell from 3.64 to 3.58 l/100pkm, on medium-haul routes from 4.52 to 4.34 l/100pkm and on short-haul routes from 7.30 to 7.02 l/100pkm.
The SWISS long-haul fleet was especially fuel-efficient with a SKC of 3.08 l/100pkm, with Austrian recording 3.98 l/100pkm (compared with 4.18 in 2011, a best efficiency improvement across the Group of 4.8%) and Lufthansa German Airlines improving from 4.27 in 2011 to 4.16 l/100pkm in 2012. Without its regional subsidiaries and Germanwings, the Lufthansa fleet achieved an average SKC of 3.98 l/100pkm.
Accounting for more than 20% of operating expenses, fuel is the Group’s largest cost item at around €7.4 billion ($9.9bn) in 2012, €1.1 billion more than in 2011 and 50% higher than in 2010. A saving of just 1% in fuel consumption can therefore improve its annual result by €7.4 million and so improving fuel efficiency is at the top of its agenda, says Lufthansa. At the beginning of last month, the Group opened its new Fuel Efficiency department, following the launch of the Group’s SCORE corporate programme’s Fuel Efficiency project in spring 2012.
Although all the airlines within the Group had rules and measures in place to improve fuel consumption there was no standardised overview of the many different activities taking place, it reports. “None of us knew which measures might also be implemented by the other airlines,” explains the head of the new department, Jens Ritter, in the sustainability report.
“Out of cost and eco-consciousness, we want to use each tonne of kerosene as efficiently as possible. To this end, we are taking steps to intensify the successful exchange of information between the Group companies. This will allow us to take better advantage of the diverse know-how and expertise within the Lufthansa Group to develop even more ideas and implement more new projects.”
To adopt a more systematic approach to developing these ideas and projects, Ritter says the department is pursuing two approaches. “First, we’ll set up a fuel-efficiency information management system to generate new ideas continuously and methodically. Here we’re in close coordination with the experts at Lufthansa Technik, who’ve run a highly successful innovation management programme for some time. Second, we want to utilise a sophisticated IT system to analyse at which points our flight operations can become even more efficient.”
Experts in the Fuel Efficiency project team, drawn from the Group’s airlines, have so far launched 500 projects to develop fuel-saving measures, around 200 of which are expected to be adopted over the short or medium term. These include technical improvements, altered flying procedures and further weight reductions.
“Weight is a perennial topic,” says Ritter. “Unnecessary load costs us a third of its weight in fuel on each long-haul flight.”
If an aircraft weighs 100 kilos less on average, Lufthansa says it stands to save €2.6 million ($3.5m) a year in fuel. Last December, a team of 40 Lufthansa employees headed by Ritter completely cleared a Lufthansa A340-200 aircraft, unloading all loose items in the aircraft’s cockpit, cabin and cargo hold to weigh and catalogue them. This resulted in four tonnes of material, from cockpit documentation, pillows and blankets to torch lights and trolleys. Currently, the operating departments are evaluating which items and in which quantities can remain on board, which can be eliminated and which can be replaced by more lightweight versions.