Climate Protection report 2016

Aviation’s climate protection plan

In 2009, airlines, aircraft manufacturers, air navigation service providers and airports worldwide agreed a climate protection plan: to increase fuel efficiency by approximately 1.5% per year; to achieve carbon-neutral growth in air travel by 2020; and to halve net CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 levels. These goals will be achieved by implementing the following measures:

1. Reduce CO2 emissions

Reducing the specific energy requirements of aircraft will cut fuel consumption and, in turn, CO2 emissions. The measures designed to achieve this improvement include technical innovations by aircraft and engine manufacturers, optimally coordinated operational processes on the ground and in the air, and implementation of the Single European Sky.

2. Offset CO2 emissions

In order to also achieve a reduction in absolute CO2 emissions despite the growth in air traffic, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is negotiating, at UN level, a global climate protection mechanism designed to ensure carbon-neutral growth by 2020.

3. Fly CO2-neutral

To achieve long-term carbon-neutral air travel, we need to see the development of alternative fuels and drives, combined with the political support to make their use commercially viable.

Climate protection in figures

Air transport is becoming increasingly eco-efficient thanks to the aviation industry's success in decoupling air traffic growth from growth in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

While air traffic in Germany has more than tripled since 1990, kerosene consumption has risen by just 85% during the same period. This has been achieved by reducing the average consumption of the German fleet per person per 100 kilometres by 42% since 1990.

*Traffic growth and kerosene consumption refer to the total traffic volume of all departures from airports in Germany. Source: BDL based on data from destatis and the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA)

New efficiency record

Since 2009, German airlines have reduced fuel consumption per passenger by an average of 1.68%, significantly beating the industry target of 1.5%. The average consumption of the German fleet per person and per 100 kilometres is now 3.63 litres, which is a new efficiency record.

*This statistic takes into account all BDL passenger airlines and their subsidiaries. Source: BDL based on company data

A great result: an average of 3.63 litres

The consumption per passenger for air travel depends on, among other things, the passenger load factor and distance flown. Charter flights use, on average, less kerosene per person because long-term planning and booking generally mean a higher passenger load factor than scheduled flights.

Source: BDL based on company data

German air traffic control contributes to climate protection

In recent years, German air traffic control (DFS) has successfully improved routing efficiency, enabling a 31% reduction in the average deviation from an aircraft's ideal flight path in Germany - down from 5.5 km to 3.8 km in 2015. If the kilometres saved in this way on all flights were added together, it would be equivalent to an aircraft flying 128 times around the globe. Ensuring optimal routings has reduced CO2 emissions by some 65,000 tonnes in 2015 alone.

Source: DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH

Freight up – consumption down

German cargo aircraft are also more efficient than ever: expressed in terms of passengers, the Lufthansa Cargo fleet only uses 1.89 litres per 100 kilometres. That is almost half the consumption of passenger aircraft. This is due to the fact that a freighter does not have to be fitted with seats and can utilise the available space more efficiently.

*100 kg = 1 passenger incl. luggage
Source: Lufthansa Cargo

Carbon footprint at German airports

Between 2010 and 2014, German airports successfully reduced their specific CO2 emissions by more than 21%, down to 2.45 kg of CO2 per transport unit. Factors that contributed to this reduction include the optimisation of ground operations, the use of innovative technologies to run buildings and installations, such as modern heating controls, and the use of alternative vehicle propulsion systems, such as electric vehicles.

*1 TU = 1 transport unit = 1 passenger incl. luggage or 100 kg cargo; figures refer to Scope 1 (direct emissions from airports' own facilities) and Scope 2 (indirect emissions from purchased energy); Source: German Airports Association (ADV)

Aviation's share of global CO2 emissions drops

For years now, aviation has been continually improving its energy efficiency and carbon footprint around the world. In spite of high growth rates, aviation's share of global CO2 emissions has been steadily falling - from 2.81% in 2000 to 2.48% in 2013. This is due to increasingly efficient flights ensuring that the absolute CO2 emissions in the aviation sector grow at a lower rate than emissions from other sectors.

*Measured against CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels
Source: International Energy Agency (IEA) 2015, data for 2013

Falling carbon emissions on domestic flights

In 2014, domestic flights accounted for 0.28 per cent of total CO2 emissions in Germany. The airlines were able to reduce this already low figure by a further 7% compared to 1990 - down to 2.2 million tonnes of CO2 - despite the fact that domestic air traffic grew by 57% in the same period.

Source: BDL, based on data on air transport services from destatis and CO2 emissions data from the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA)

€43 billion investment to reduce carbon footprint

Reducing the fuel consumption of an aircraft, and thus its carbon footprint, requires a multifaceted approach. Key factors are propulsion systems, aerodynamics and weight. Technical innovations mean that fuel consumption is reduced by some 15% with each new generation of aircraft. While the most effective action is investment in new aircraft, this presupposes that airlines have sufficient resources. Unilateral approaches, however, such as Germany's air travel tax, create an unlevel playing field and distort competition to the detriment of German airlines – which reduces the ability to invest and undermines innovation for more climate protection.  In spite of this, German airlines are continually investing in new aircraft; currently in 252 more fuel-efficient planes at a list price of €43 billion in total. It is an effective combination of economy and ecology, given that fuel costs account for up to 30% of an airline's overall operating costs. Investment could be higher still if only the legislators would act to mitigate the competition-distorting effects of unilateral burden.

Source: Manufacturer's specifications

Conversion factors

1 kg kerosene emits 3.15 kg CO2

4 litres per passenger per 100 km is equivalent to approx. 100 grams of CO2 per passenger per kilometre

0.2 litres per tonne/per km is equivalent to approx. 500 grams of CO2 per tkm

Energy density
1 kg kerosene = 42.8 MJ (megajoules)
1 MJ = 0.023 kg kerosene

1 l kerosene = 34.24 MJ
1 MJ = 0.029 l kerosene

Mass density
1 l kerosene = 0.8 kg kerosene
1 kg kerosene = 1.25 l kerosene

1 l = 0.264 US gal lqd (US gallon)
1 US gal. lqd. = 3.785 l

1 l = 0.00629 bl (barrel)
1 bl = 159 l

Freight and passengers
1 passenger incl. luggage is equivalent to 100 kg = 1 TU (transport unit)
1 tonne of cargo is equivalent to ten passengers incl. luggage = 10 TU (transport unit)

1 m = 3.28 ft (feet)
1 ft = 0.3048 m
1 km = 0.62 mi (miles)
1 mi = 1.61 km
1 km = 0.54 NM (nautical mile)
1 NM = 1.852 km
1 NM = 1 sm (sea mile)

100 km/h = 54 kn (knots)
1 kn = 1 NM/h = 1.852 km/h

Megajoule: 1 MJ = 1,000,000 J = 106 J
Petajoule: 1 PJ = 1,000,000,000,000,000 J = 1015 J

Source: LTO data 2014 for national/international flights, German Federal Environment Agency (UBA)