* Biofuel mix in one engine on Frankfurt-Hamburg route
* Lufthansa says 6-month trial will save 1,500 tonnes CO2
* Campaigners concerned over impact on land use
(Adds more passenger comment, background on emissions)
By Victoria Bryan
FRANKFURT, July 15 Lufthansa became
the first airline to use biofuels on regular commercial flights
on Friday in a six month trial that it estimates will reduce CO2
emissions by up to 1,500 tonnes during the period.
European airlines are pressing ahead with biofuel plans in
order to cut use of regular jet fuel. A pact signed last month
with biofuel producers and the EU Commission aims to produce 2
million tonnes of biofuel for aviation by 2020.
Lufthansa is using a mix of regular fuel and biofuel made by
Neste Oil from jatropha and camelina crops and animal
fats, in one engine of an Airbus plane on daily flights
between Frankfurt and Hamburg.
It said on Friday the aim of the trial, along with reducing
emissions, was to examine the effects of biofuel on engines.
Passengers on the flights will not see, feel or hear any
difference in the aircraft, Lufthansa biofuels director Joachim
Buse told Reuters at the Paris Air Show in June.
Robert Wall, international editor at Aviation Week and a
passenger on the first bio-fuelled flight, said the plane
departed from Hamburg to a water cannon salute.
"Niko Pointner, the LH A321 captain, said everything was
completely normal," Wall said, adding the captain had told
passengers Friday's inaugural flight was expected to save 1
metric tonne of CO2.
Transport services provided by Lufthansa released 26.6
million tonnes of CO2 in 2010, according to its annual report.
The group plans to reduce emissions per passenger-kilometre by
25 percent by 2020.
Air France-KLM and Britain's Thomson Airways have
said they will run commercial flights starting from September
using a biofuel mix made from used cooking oil.
However, biofuels are the subject of much debate as to how
'green' they actually are, with the use of crops such as palm
oil coming under fire for using land that could instead be used
to grow crops to feed people.
Friends of the Earth Europe campaigner Robbie Blake told
Reuters that even though Lufthansa now seemed to be avoiding
palm oil, there were still concerns over jatropha.
"Switching from palm oil to jatropha is no alternative -
this is a crop that is responsible for large-scale land grabbing
in Africa, displacing local communities and destroying their
livelihoods, with no evidence of a reduction in carbon," he
Lufthansa said the production of its biofuel was not in
direct competition with food production and no rainforests were
Other options for creating biofuel include waste
and algae. British Airways is hoping to start powering
its fleet using a fuel derived from waste by 2015, but algae is
still in the early stages of development, with many predicting
it will be at least 10 years before it can be brought into
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan. Editing by Jane Merriman and Jon