THE progress that Air France/KLM Martinair Cargo (AFKLMP Cargo) has been making with its ambitious strategy to reduce its environmental footprint is commendable, writes Thelma Etim.

The European airline group is not only utilising sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for some of its flights, but is also actively encouraging those air cargo businesses and suppliers it works with to do so as well.

According to a statement, AFKLMP Cargo’s SAF programme enables shippers and freight forwarders to ensure that some sectors of their flights schedule is powered by alternative fuel, a substitute for conventional ‘dirty’ jet fuel. This type of fuel initiative has been shown to reduce CO2 emissions from air transportation by up to 85 per cent – and can be utilised without the need to modify existing supply chain infrastructure, aircraft or engines.

Now the carrier has announced that five significant Chinese forwarders – AWOT, Job-Mate International Logistics, CTS International, Xiamen Supertrans Logistics and Sinotrans Global E-commerce Logistics, the air transport arm of the logistics entity China Merchants Group – have joined its environmentally-friendly initiative.

One of China’s biggest forwarders, the Beijing Airport Economic Zone-headquartered Sinotrans, will be offering its customers a ‘green route’ between Hangzhou and Amsterdam. The company has a special relationship with AFKLMP Cargo signing an agreement at the beginning of this year which promotes cross-border e-commerce, the statement notes. The carrier will benefit from the Chinese company’s ground operations, as well as Customs brokerage and domestic China-wide trucking services, whilst the forwarder gains access to the airline’s expansive global air network.

GertJan Roelands, senior vice-president of sales and distribution at AFKLMP Cargo, enthuses of these partnerships: “We welcome Sinotrans to our Cargo SAF Programme, which makes it easy to understand and visualise the change one can make in reducing CO2 emissions on a trade lane or flight segment. Whether you’re a large, mid-sized or small business, we offer you a means of showing your engagement in sustainability to your customer,” he says.

Zhang Liang, vice-general manager of Sinotrans Global E-commerce Logistics, points out that its Hangzhou branch is very proud to be contributing towards reducing CO2 emissions on Hangzhou-Amsterdam flights “by more than 15 per cent” for the year. “The SAF Programme of AFKLMP Cargo offers us a platform to promote the development of green logistics,” he underscores.

Rahul Pathak, director for the China, Hong Kong and Taiwan region at AFKLMP Cargo, stresses that it is only through such joint commitments and combined efforts that the air cargo industry can lower its carbon footprint. “We believe that, on the one hand, our strong business commitment to one another has made this engagement towards a sustainable future possible. On the other, it confirms the environmental awareness of our partners and their sense of social responsibility,” he adds.

In January this year, AFKLMP Cargo and forwarder Kuehne + Nagel (K + N) also joined forces to launch their first ever carbon-neutral airfreight route between North America and Europe. Under the arrangement, K + N shipments are loaded onto those AF/KLM flights from Los Angeles to Amsterdam which are operated with SAF.

France’s environmental targets for its aviation sector are amongst the most ambitious in the world, with new legislation that aims to eventually replace jet kerosene altogether and which, initially requires aircraft to employ at least one per cent bio-jet fuel by 2022, two per cent by 2025, five per cent by 2030 and 50 per cent by 2050.

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