Lufthansa Group stalls on annual fuel efficiency improvement for the second year running
Lufthansa received the first of its Airbus A350-900 aircraft in late 2016
Tue 11 July 2017 – For the second year running, Europe’s largest airline group, Lufthansa, failed to improve the overall fuel efficiency of its fleet, citing a decline in the passenger load factor by 1.4% and the negative effects of “geopolitical developments” and changing passenger reservation patterns caused by strikes. The group also says new, more fuel-efficient aircraft did not arrive early enough in the reporting year to make a contribution to lowering fuel consumption. Overall fuel efficiency in the group averaged 3.85 litres per 100 passenger-kilometres (l/100pkm) in 2016 compared to 3.84 l/100pkm in 2015 and 2014, with absolute fuel consumption rising 1.2% in 2016, from nearly 28.2 million tonnes of CO2 to just over 28.5 million tonnes. SWISS, which flies predominantly long- and medium-haul routes, was the best performer in the Group with a specific fuel consumption of 3.44 l/100pkm.
“Fuel efficiency is of central importance for the Lufthansa Group, in particular as fuel expenditure is a significant cost item for the company,” says Europe’s largest airline group in its 2017 annual sustainability report, Balance. “But the Group is motivated not only by economic, but also by ecological considerations to use the required kerosene as efficiently as possible.
“Fuel efficiency also ensures that air transport can meet future challenges. Aviation is and will remain a growth industry. As transport volumes rise strongly, absolute fuel consumption and thus emissions also increase – despite continuous efficiency gains.”
The Lufthansa Group has an objective of improving its fuel efficiency by 25% from 2006 to 2020 but with just four years to go it is only half way to achieving the target. However, the Group expects significant gains over the years ahead as new fuel efficient types of aircraft such as the Airbus A320neo, A350-900 and the Bombardier C-Series join the 600-strong fleet. In 2016, the Group introduced a new aircraft into the fleet almost every week on average and in December, Lufthansa received the first of 25 ordered A350-900 aircraft and now has three of the type.
The Group says it will take delivery of 205 new aircraft by 2025 that will also include the long-haul eco-efficient Boeing 777-9, which is due to enter service in three years’ time.
During 2016, a total of 183 fuel efficiency projects were implemented, leading to CO2 reductions of 620,000 tonnes on an annual basis. The Group’s Flight Operations Efficiency & Innovation department is responsible for managing the projects and has the task of identifying, developing and implementing approaches, concepts and processes in flight operations that are aimed at improving fuel efficiency continuously and over the long term. The emphasis during the 2016 reporting year was placed on projects concerning engine modifications and projects involving flight planning and management.
As part of the SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) programme, the Group participated in three demonstration projects that included more direct routings under scheduled flight conditions on 68 flights; an ATC project involving SWISS, Skyguide and Zurich Airport; and test flight evaluations of augmented approaches at Frankfurt and Bremen.
The Group concluded the introduction of lightweight trolleys in 2016, with around 30,000 service trolleys having been replaced since 2011 with new models weighing 35% less than their predecessors. Lufthansa Cargo is replacing all standard containers with lightweight variants by 2020 and by the end of 2016, around 70% had been switched.
In December, the maiden flight took place of a Lufthansa ‘sharkskin’ plane that marked the start of a two-year test phase of an air resistant, microstructured surface being developed by Lufthansa Technik and others that could conserve up to 1.5% of fuel.
Lufthansa Group continues to be actively involved in the development of sustainable alternative fuels and in 2016 refuelled its aircraft at Oslo Airport with a fuel blend that contained 5% biokerosene, as part of a one-year project involving Air BP, Avinor and SkyNRG. Around 5,000 flights operated by the Group’s airlines, which included Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Germanwings and Brussels Airlines, flew on the blend.
The focus for 2017 will be on the certification of an environmental management system for Lufthansa at its Munich hub and work on the group’s Environmental Strategy 2030 that is due to be introduced during the year.
“In this context, we are also analysing if it would make sense to implement further central control parameters at the Group level and to interlink environmental care even more strongly with the Group’s strategy,” writes Dr Karlheinz Haag, VP Group Environmental Issues, in the sustainability report.
“We’re also working on implementing new efficient software aimed at further improving the capture, analysis and reporting of our environmental data. This application will also serve as a technical basis to expand the capture of environmental data step by step.”
The report reiterates the Group’s long-standing opposition to the inclusion of aviation in the EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), which it argues unilaterally burdens European airlines in contrast to airlines outside Europe. Although a compromise, the global ICAO CORSIA offsetting scheme is the best solution and should in the future be the sole market-based instrument to regulate CO2 emissions from international flights, it believes.
“This also includes flights within the EU, which will be included in the EU ETS until 2020, according to the European Commission,” states Haag. “We expect that the EU system will be replaced by CORSIA with worldwide validity after this date.”