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Lufthansa chief urges governments to support carbon-neutral fuels

Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr has committed to lowering the airline group's greenhouse-gas emissions through the use of new eco-friendly fuels such as synthetic kerosene.

Speaking at a national aviation conference in the German city of Leipzig, Sophr argued that synthetic kerosene offered a realistic means of achieving carbon-neutral flying, but highlighted the need for a "strong, joint commitment from industry and politics to promoting sustainable fuels".

Spohr believes that governments should move to incentivise climate protection within the industry. "It would make sense to invest in the market development of CO2-neutral fuels or other measures that make air transport more climate-friendly," he says. At a cost of around €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion), this could be funded by the German federal government through aviation tax, Spohr suggests.

European governments could also act to reduce aviation's emissions by modernising nationally organised navigation services, he says. Echoing recent comments by IAG counterpart Willie Walsh, Sophr estimates that detours by passenger aircraft flying around national boundaries increase kerosene consumption by 10%. "Implementing a Single European Sky would be a real climate-protection measure," he asserts.

Spohr points to Lufthansa's fleet renewal programme as a more immediate way in which the carrier is acting to reduce emissions. "In the short term, the biggest lever is in fuel-efficient aircraft, which emit up to a quarter less CO2 than their predecessor models," he notes. In 2018, Lufthansa and its subsidiaries consumed an average of 3.65 litres of kerosene to fly a passenger 100km, a 41% reduction from 1990's comparative figure. Newer aircraft that are currently being introduced will further reduce the group's CO2 emissions by around 1.5 million tonnes per year, says Spohr.

He also emphasises the importance of aviation to the world economy, noting that nearly a third of international freight by value is carried by air, a figure that accords with IATA's estimate. The supply of development aid or medicines around the globe would be impossible without air traffic, says Spohr, as would tourism – an industry that ensures economic stability in many regions.

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