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A Lufthansa Airbus A350-900 XWB departing from Munich. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Fabian Behr)

Lufthansa Operates Longest Flight in Company History

The COVID-19 crisis has clearly taken its toll on the aviation industry, ultimately forcing airlines to follow travel restrictions, suspend flights and modify flight schedules to accommodate fluctuating travel demand and load factors. However, several major airlines and aircraft manufacturers have used this obstacle to actively contribute efforts to make air travel sustainable and combat climate change in an industry that is almost by definition bad for the climate. Many have done so through researching different biofuels to improve fuel economy and reduce aircraft noise. 

Lufthansa — an airline that has also contributed to resolving the issue through its own business agreements — decided to approach the endeavor for combating climate change distinctively, operating a unique flight in the process. The German flag carrier officially embarked on the longest flight in its history on Jan. 31 — roughly three weeks after announcing the special departure — in partnership with the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, flying from its home country to the Falkland Islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean.

“We are pleased to be able to support a polar research expedition during these difficult times. Commitment to climate research is very important to us. We have been active in this field for more than 25 years and have equipped selected aircraft with measuring instruments. Since then, scientists all around the world have been using the data collected during the voyage to make climate models more precise and improve weather forecasts,” Thomas Jahn, Fleet Captain for Lufthansa and Project Manager for Falkland, said in a statement.

Due to COVID-19-induced requirements, the airline’s crew quarantined for two weeks in preparation for the special flight. Lufthansa operated one of its 17 Airbus A350-900XWBs for the roughly 15-hour flight to Mount Pleasant, located in the Falkland Islands. 

The airline’s special flight departed Hamburg, Germany on Jan. 31 at 9:24 p.m. with 18 crew members and 92 passengers onboard, a contingent that mainly consisted of scientists and ship crews destined to travel on a ship to Antarctica for oceanic data collection. The carrier will operate the return flight for the polar expedition crew on Feb. 3 from Mount Pleasant to Munich, scheduled to arrive on Feb. 4 at 2 p.m.

Eyes On A Proactive, Sustainable Airline

The prominent Star Alliance carrier’s longest passenger flight is historic for the airline’s operational record. Nevertheless, its decision to carry out the historic flight served as a contributor to not only expressing its vision for sustainability but also assisting the discovery of the necessary data to outline effective procedures for tackling climate issues.

Lufthansa’s strategic approach to becoming more sustainable and supporting climate protection follows a four-pillar method emphasizing technological advancements, operational improvements, infrastructure enhancements and economic measures. In November 2020, the airline announced the carbon dioxide compensation program, which was integrated into its Miles & More mileage program.

“Even during difficult economic times, we are continuing our efforts to make aviation more climate-friendly. This includes investments particularly in fuel-efficient aircraft and the various projects in the field of sustainable aviation fuels. With the ‘MindfulFlyer’ application, we have just made it possible for Miles & More members to offset the CO2 emissions of their air travel quickly and easily in the app,” said Christina Foerster, Lufthansa AG Executive Board Member for Customer, IT & Corporate Responsibility, a belief characterized through the airline’s decision to enhance its mileage program for its members to offset carbon emissions and eventually plan to smoothly transition over to sustainable aviation fuel.

Benjamin Pham
Benjamin Pham
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