An integrated view of sustainability

Sustainability is on the radar for all sectors of aviation, including air cargo. Shippers and freight forwarders are among the businesses putting pressure on airlines to ensure they provide a sustainable service.


And, of course, there is also increasing awareness among the general public too. The people buying goods online want to know that their shipment is being delivered in as sustainable a way as possible.

An expert panel looked at the issues to consider as air cargo forges ahead with its sustainability commitments. The key point was that net zero carbon emissions can’t be achieved overnight. The vast majority of aviation’s carbon footprint is from fossil fuel, for which there is no immediate replacement. Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) are available—and in increasing amounts—but there is still a long way to go before SAF have a significant impact.

Moreover, many of the other emissions happen upstream and involve third parties and so it is critical that the entire aviation value chain is involved in driving toward net zero.

Improvements will therefore be incremental in the years ahead despite the best efforts of airlines. Nevertheless, airlines are committed to decarbonization and are throwing plenty of resources at the challenge. This must be communicated more clearly to the public and other relevant parties, such as governments.

Andrea Schoen, Program Director Clean Air Transport, Smart Freight Center, said that it is vital to focus on an integrated view. “That means not just accommodating all the players in the supply chain but also considering other factors, such as air cargo’s economic impact and advantages,” she noted.

For instance, delivering fresh fruit and flowers to Europe from such countries as Egypt and Kenya supports critical industries and contributes to the welfare of the population in these African countries.

Aside from this obvious economic benefit, sometimes air cargo is the only solution. It can reach remote communities or provide aid in times of crises, especially when road and rail infrastructure has been affected, such as following an earthquake.

Air cargo is not only a lifeline but a vital component in the world’s economic engine, delivering approximately one-third of the world’s goods by value. The panel noted that this connectivity naturally favors connected, global solutions when it comes to sustainability.


The Panel

Andrea Schoen, Program Director Clean Air Transport, Smart Freight Center

Jacqueline Casini, Senior Director Corporate Communications, Lufthansa Cargo

Moderator: Katherine Kaczynska, Assistant Director Corporate Communications, IATA


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