Keeping cargo emissions in check


An increasing number of customers in air cargo are requesting to know the amount of pollution and waste created from each flight. Finnair Cargo caters to this customer base by offering an online carbon dioxide calculator, and is also soon launching a new emissions reporting tool.

At a growing number of companies, reporting carbon dioxide emissions from production and logistics is becoming standard practice. Many of these companies also take into account emissions from air cargo and look for ways to reduce them.

“During the recession, environmental questions were pushed, in some ways, to the backburner. Now these issues are topical again, and I am confident that the concept of corporate responsibility is here to stay,” says Pertti Mero, vice president of global sales at Finnair Cargo.

Accurate emissions information

Finnair Cargo’s databases contain a large supply of information on carbon dioxide emissions generated on the airline’s various routes.

“About a year ago we launched an improved online emissions calculator that indicates the amount of carbon dioxide emissions for a shipment on a particular route. Its calculations are based on actual cargo, passenger traffic and fuel consumption, which are updated each quarter. This isn’t just based on averages, but on real emissions data,” says Mero.

This data is also being utilised in Finnair Cargo’s soon-to be launched emissions reporting tool, which allows customers to easily find out the amount of pollution generated from a given freight shipment. Emissions from freight can already be manually calculated.

With the help of the online emissions calculator and the reporting tool, customers will be able to determine how their choice of route impacts the amount of pollution created. Road feeders services (RFS) will also be taken into account.

”Our aim is to have all of our environmental reporting certified by an outside expert,” Mero says.

Shorter and cleaner routes

Mero emphasises that many different aspects of air travel and cargo impact the amount of emissions generated.

“Finnair has a modern fleet, and our planes are filled to an optimal capacity with cargo. We are also able to offer shorter routes and flight times than many of our competitors,“ Mero says. “These are all reasons why we also generate less pollution.”

In traffic between Europe and Asia, Helsinki Airport has an undeniable geographic advantage to competing airports. Helsinki is also a convenient gateway between North America and Asia.

“Routes from Central Europe to Asia can be made shorter by thousands of kilometres,” says Mero.

Comprehensive measures

Airline emissions tend to go down as operations become more streamlined.

“Taking good care of aircraft and piloting them in a way that cuts down on fuel use is part of our operational efficiency. We use the continuous descent approach method in our landings, which allows us to use less engine power.”

Environmental questions are also taken into account throughout Finnair’s ground operations.

Reducing waste through collaboration

Documents such as air waybills are an essential part of air cargo; customs regulations further add to the amount of paper waste created by each shipment. As a result, different operators in the air cargo network have begun to collaborate on ways to cut back on discarded paper.

“We are constantly developing our electronic documentation. In Europe, for example, we have cooperated with officials and taken notable steps to handle customs in a paperless way.”

Paper cargo documents have already been eliminated from certain routes. “On a global scale, however, the process towards paperless cargo is still in its early stages,” Mero says.

Text by Matti Remes
Photo by Juha Niemi

Published August 24, 2011

Category: Environment, Finnair Cargo