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How Is Air Freight Becoming More Sustainable?

Air Freight

The air freight industry is one the largest industries in the world and it constantly continues to grow due to its ability to deliver goods quickly and efficiently. It’s reported that the air freight industry transports over $6 trillion worth of goods, which accounts for approximately 35% of world trade. On the other hand however, the air cargo and travel industry in general is also one of the largest contributors to global warming and climate change.

How does air freight impact the environment?

Air crafts burn fossil fuels which release CO2 emissions but also other gases such as nitrous oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), water and soot. This causes a net warming effect which can be up to 3 times more damaging than the warming caused by CO2 emissions.

Emissions from aviation have grown faster than any other mode of transport and have more than doubled between 1990 and 2019. Without action, aviation emissions could double by 2050 and the industry could consume more than 10% of the remaining carbon budget to stay below 1.5ºC. Global organisations and activists are now committed to developing strategies and investing in new technologies to make the industry more sustainable.

Airplane flying across the sky

What is being done to reduce the impact of air freight?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all United Nation members in an aim to create peace and prosperity for the whole planet. These goals aim to tackle a number of global issues, including climate change and the preservation of oceans and forests, which airlines and organisations such as the IATA have embraced as part of their sustainability efforts.

There are several approaches being taken in the air freight industry in particular to reduce the impact it’s having on the environment.

Alternative Air Freight Fuels

Research is ongoing into finding alternative and sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) which are produced from renewable sources such as biofuels and sustainable feedstocks. This includes cooking oil, waste materials and algae. These materials offer lower carbon emissions compared to traditional jet fuels.

An Airplane having it's fuel tank filled up, before it is due to take off

Optimising Air Freight Routes

Airlines are now using advanced routing and flight planning techniques to find the most direct and accurate routes to optimise fuel consumption and reduce emissions. Doing so takes into account factors such as wind patterns, air traffic congestion and the performance capabilities of air crafts. Not only does this save on fuel consumption and costs but minimises carbon emissions.

Load Optimisation for Air Freight

When effectively optimising cargo loads, this can increase the capacity of goods an aircraft can hold and maximise the space available, ultimately reducing the number of flights required. Not only does this save time and resources but contributes to making the aviation industry more efficient and sustainable.

cargo being loaded onto a plane before

Modernising Freight Aircrafts

Newer aircraft models are now being equipped with advanced technology and becoming more fuel-efficient to significantly reduce emissions. This is achieved through making aircraft more aerodynamic, reducing weight and integrating more efficient engines.

The Future of Air Freight Sustainability

The air freight industry, including freight forwarders, recognise the implications that fossil fuels from aviation are having on the environment and have made a long-term commitment to sustainable practices.

The practices the air freight industry have implemented are aligned to global climate targets that have been outlined in the Paris Agreement, including the aim to limit global warming to well below 2ºC. Overall, the industry aims to achieve carbon-neutral growth and reduce net emissions to zero through ongoing research into innovative solutions and low and zero-emission aircraft.

Here at Jenkar, we have years of experience in the air freight industry and are well equipped to deliver cargo efficiently and seamlessly to destinations worldwide. For more information on our air freight services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and a friendly member of our freight team will be more than happy to help.

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