Master Plan for Climate Protection in Aviation

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Master Plan: Climate Protection in Aviation

Our goal of carbon neutral aviation can be achieved if the specific measures outlined in this plan are pursued jointly by industry and governments.

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In the current Covid 19 crisis air traffic worldwide has come to a standstill, and along with it, of course, the associated emissions have been reduced. But the demand for air transport will increase again. Even if this will only happen gradually over a longer period of time, we are convinced: Climate protection continues to matter all of us and we must act sustainably and effectively.

In doing so, we also have to keep in mind the economic impact of the pandemic on the biggest levers for climate protection in aviation, because investments in climate protection require economically strong companies in the aviation branch.

Our goal

We, the German aviation companies, are committed to the goal of carbon-neutral airport and flight operations.

Our measures

Our goal of carbon-neutral air transport is attainable, if the concrete measures outlined below are promoted jointly by industry and politics:

  • Renewing fleets by introducing lower emission aircraft
  • Replacing fossil kerosene with sustainable aviation fuels
  • Implementing carbon-neutral airport operation
  • More efficient air traffic control in European airspace
  • Transferring air traffic demand to rail by strengthening intermodality
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by means of a CO2 pricing scheme
  • Reducing non-CO2 effects on climate

1. Replacing fleets with lower emission aircraft

Each new generation of aircraft requires up to 25 percent less kerosene and accordingly emits less CO2. With increasingly more energy-efficient aircraft and operating procedures, we have been able to reduce carbon emissions per passenger kilometre by 44 percent since 1990, and we want to continue investing in an ecological fleet replacement. In the long run, new aircraft engines will also help to reduce CO2 emissions of each flight.


With the collapse of air traffic due to the Corona pandemic, fleet renewal has largely come to a standstill. However, we want to continue renewing our aircraft fleets and equip them with more energy-efficient and lower-emission aircraft. In order to be able to achieve this, we would like to use the funds from the fleet renewal support programme which the German Government is preparing.

With these investments and further improvement in operating procedures, we aim at reducing specific carbon emissions by a further 1 to 1.5 percent annually.

2. Replacing kerosene with sustainable aviation fuels

In order to achieve the goal of carbon-neutral flying, it is essential to replace fossil kerosene with sustainable aviation fuels. In the long term the best solution, also in ecological terms, is the use of fuels made from atmospheric CO2 produced by means of renewable energy. Aiming to make progress in this area, we are working together with politicians and the manufacturing industry to make this happen. In doing so, it is important to support measures that are neutral in terms of competition for airlines competing internationally.


  • Together with the Federal Government and the federal states as well as with plant manufacturers and the energy and petroleum industry, we are drawing up a roadmap for the development of production capacities to provide sustainable aviation fuels at competitive prices.
  • We are prepared to participate in pilot projects to build industrial plants for the production of sustainable aviation fuels, for example by providing purchase guarantees.
  • For the market ramp-up, we suggest that the government should use the revenue from ticket taxes to promote investment in the comprehensive system change to sustainable aviation fuels. An obligation to blend synthetic fuels with fossil kerosene would also be, in principle, a suitable instrument for market ramp-up. The implementation of such a quota at global level would be the preferred option, as it would affect all airlines in the same way.
    Any attempt to establish such mandatory blending as a regionally limited (domestic or European) solution in international aviation will lead to distortions of competition and to carbon leakage. In order to avoid carbon leakage and distortion of competition at the expense of German airlines and hubs in Germany in the event of a regional mandatory blending obligation (whether national or European), such regulation should not lead to regional fuel price differences. Therefore, it should be ensured that the additional costs of mandatory blending are reliably excluded in the long term. In principle, this would be possible by minimising production costs and compensation of the remaining extra costs.
  • We suggest that the European Union and its Member States, in a joint industrial policy effort, should define the conditions for sufficient supply of production facilities and fuel and support the UN Aviation Organisation ICAO in setting the necessary framework conditions to ensure sufficient demand for sustainable aviation fuels in global aviation. In this context, mandatory blending will only be effective, if technically feasible and neutral in terms of competition for airlines competing internationally.


Our goal is to finalize the roadmap, which we are developing together with the federal government and the federal German states as well as with plant manufacturers and the energy and petroleum industry, until the beginning of 2021. Based on this roadmap, we may then start building up production capacities and gradually introduce them to the market.

3. Implementing carbon-neutral airport operation

To reduce the CO2 emissions of our airports in cooperation with their partners, we will implement concrete climate protection measures in facility management and airport operations.


In the field of power supply:

  • Exploitation of regional opportunities for climate-friendly power supply
  • Power generation and power supply based on renewables
  • Use of geothermal energy for cooling and heating
  • Generation of electricity and heat from renewable resources

In the field of building services:

  • Optimisation of air conditioning in terminals
  • Construction of sustainable low-energy buildings
  • Energetic optimisation of new building projects, terminals and office buildings
  • Temperature control depending on weather forecast
  • Efficient lighting and innovative ventilation technology

In the field of airport-specific facilities:

  • Retrofitting of runway lighting by LED technology
  • Retrofitting of apron lighting
  • Optimisation of passenger boarding bridges and baggage handling systems

In the field of vehicle fleet/mobility:

  • Conversion of vehicles on the apron to alternative propulsion systems
  • Expansion and conversion to electromobility or alternative fuels, e.g.
  • electrification of the ground handling fleet

The retail and catering businesses at airports are also taking steps towards carbon-neutrality.

With these measures we will gradually reduce CO2 emissions of our airports to zero.

4. Efficient Air Traffic Management in European airspace

The further development of a “Single European Sky” may contribute to active climate protection: By optimising flight routings within the German airspace, we have already been able to reduce detours and thus fuel consumption. At the European level, the introduction of Free Route Airspace has saved more than 2.6 million tonnes of CO2 since 2014, which corresponds to approximately 0.5 per cent of the CO2 emissions caused by aviation.


  • More automation of air navigation services with standardised equipment
  • Increase pilotage flexibility
  • Setting of EU-wide standards for air traffic control technologies, procedures and licences to facilitate air traffic control activities
  • Revision of the European regulatory framework to ensure effective market-replacing economic regulation of air navigation services

According to the SESAR Joint Undertaking, implementation of the Single European Sky could save 250 to 500 kg of fuel or 0.8 to 1.6 tonnes of CO2 per flight:

  • On the ground 38 to 75 kg fuel per flight could be saved, for example, by shorter taxiways and fewer stops with the active cooperation of airports and airlines
  • Savings of 163 to 325 kg fuel per flight are possible by optimising flight procedures such as continuous descent and fewer turning loops.
  • On route, e.g. fewer detours caused by restricted military areas may save 50 to 100 kg fuel per flight

These additional measures may further reduce carbon emissions in European airspace by an estimated 5 to 10 percent.

5. Transferring air traffic to rail by strengthening intermodality

On short distances air traffic demand can be transferred to rail by strengthening intermodality.

In the past, numerous of domestic German air traffic demand has already been shifted to rail, and as a result, the operation of individual domestic German flight routes was discontinued. A successful transfer has always taken place when there was an attractive alternative travel offer, the corresponding infrastructure was available and the travel time by rail was no longer than three hours.

As a result, despite the growth in air traffic internationally, there has been no increase in the number of passengers in domestic German air traffic for many years. Domestic air traffic today accounts for 0.3 percent of carbon emissions in Germany. Today domestic flights within Germany essentially take place on longer routes only, i.e. where travel time by rail does not allow travellers to keep an appointment on the same day. For short distances, air transport is used almost exclusively by passengers changing planes of international flights.

In order to motivate even more passengers to use rail transport, we want to strengthen cooperation between modes of transport and improve the quality of rail travel.

6. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by CO2 pricing which is neutral to competition

We support CO2 pricing instruments,

  • if they actually foster for climate protection and,
  • if they are designed to be competitively neutral and thus avoid carbon leakage.

Air transport almost always is international. Therefore, going it alone at national level is the wrong way to go. In particular, climate policy regulations through national taxes, charges or bans are ecologically and economically counterproductive. Such measures do not reduce CO2 emissions, but merely shift them to other regions (carbon leakage), where these taxes are not levied, at the expense of the respective domestic industry. Air traffic is not reduced, but only shifted. We oppose proposals on kerosene taxation because any CO2 pricing not introduced on an internationally binding basis would have the negative consequences of distorting competition and causing carbon leakage. Regulations for aviation should be made at international level, than they will be effective in terms of climate policy. Where this is not possible internationally, distortions of competition and carbon leakage must be avoided by other means.


  • We consider emissions trading as a market-based instrument to limit and reduce CO2 emissions and to price CO2 in aviation to be the most appropriate solution. It was simply not possible to include global aviation in the EU Emissions Trading in the international community, so the EU Emissions Trading was limited regionally to the EU area. However, in order to ensure that global aviation can also be included in CO2 pricing, it is subject to the internationally coordinated CO2 compensation system CORSIA
  • We finance CO2 pricing in aviation within the framework of emissions trading by purchasing the necessary emissions certificates. The inclusion of domestic and European aviation in European Emissions Trading already in 2012 has ensured that overall CO2 emissions in the sectors included (energy industry, manufacturing industry, aviation) will be reduced by 43 percent in 2030, as compared with 2005. The planned further development of the emissions trading system should avoid the existing distortions of competition, which arise, for example, from the non-inclusion of feeder flights to non-EU hubs.
  • With the additional CO2 compensation system CORSIA, growth-related emissions will then also be compensated for in global aviation. International air traffic will thus grow in a CO2-neutral way. The airlines will as well finance this system by purchasing the corresponding compensation certificates. We will report transparently on the type of certificates used.
  • In addition to CO2-pricing instruments, emissions trading and CORSIA, passengers and companies have the possibility to individually make their flights climate-neutral for their employees. To do so, they may pay a surcharge according to the climate impact of their flight, which will be used for projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Only very few passengers are making use of this option. In order to raise the awareness of passengers and companies of our offers for climate-neutral flying or for the promotion of sustainable environmental projects and to encourage them to take the respective decisions, we want to implement these offers already in the booking process. This form of voluntary avoidance of the individual climate effects of a flight will contribute to achieving the goal of carbon-neutral flying.

There is a need for action to make the instruments of CO2 pricing competition-neutral and to avoid carbon leakage at the same time.

  • In order to overcome the systemic distortions of competition inherent in the ETS, due to its limitation to the EU, we propose the following:
    European airlines having to operate intra-European feeder flights for long-haul connections to European hubs shall be allocated free emission certificates for the emissions of the feeder share, or their emission certificate costs shall be compensated otherwise.
  • To avoid double regulation of ETS and CORSIA, we propose:
    Intra-EU flights should remain included in emissions trading at 2020 emission levels. Intra-EU emissions and flights from third countries should be taken into account by CORSIA.

The inclusion of domestic and European aviation in European emissions trading will ensure that overall CO2 emissions in the sectors included (energy industry, manufacturing industry, aviation) will be reduced by 43 percent to 2030, as compared with 2005. With CORSIA, an additional CO2 pricing and reduction system will be implemented for international aviation.

7. Reducing non-CO2 effects on climate

In addition to its CO2 emissions, aviation is also responsible for other emissions caused by the combustion of kerosene at high altitudes. These emissions also affect the climate, as they may contribute to the formation of clouds and other greenhouse gases. According to the IPCC, the total climate impact of air transport, including CO2, accounts for 3 to 5 percent of global warming and depends on various factors: Type and quantity of emissions, weather conditions, time of day and place of emission, dwell time and the geographical spread of the emissions. While the climate impact of carbon dioxide has been scientifically studied in depth, there is still a need for further research, for example, to assess the impact of contrails, cirrus clouds and nitrogen oxides on our climate. There are, however, various approaches that we are working to implement in order to reduce these effects:

  • Reducing NOx emissions significantly by improving combustion processes in the engine
  • Reducing particulate emissions by using of synthetic fuels, which will also reduce the formation of contrails
  • Another approach that can be derived from current studies is climate-optimised Air Traffic Management, which could help reduce the formation of contrails. However, further research will be required to be able to make statements about the capacity effects on a heavily used airspace.

CO2 compared to other GHG emissions, is particularly persistent, which is why our climate protection strategy is focusing particularly on the reduction of carbon emissions – without leaving aside the other climate effects.


Wolf-Dietrich Kindt
Head of Climate and Environmental Protection
+49 30 520077-140
Elisabeth Schnell
Press Spokesperson
+49 30 520077-116