Will vacation trips soon become unaffordable? After Corona, the aviation industry is now suffering from high energy costs. And she still has a much bigger job to do, as Lufthansa board member Christina Foerster outlines in an interview with FOCUS Online.

The Germans fly again. After Corona, the airlines are reporting increasing passenger numbers again. But the high energy prices are likely to put an end to the recovery – kerosene is more expensive than ever. And Christina Foerster, Chief Customer Officer at Lufthansa, gives consumers little hope that this will change in the long term: “I assume that flying will become more expensive,” she says in an interview with FOCUS Online on the sidelines of the DLD digital conference.

It’s not just the high kerosene prices that are to blame. Aviation is in the midst of a process of change that has never been seen before. “Hopefully, kerosene prices will fall again a little,” says Foerster. “But it will be more expensive elsewhere – with CO2 certificates, for example.” She does not believe that flying on vacation will become an unaffordable luxury. You will still be able to afford it. “But customers will think carefully about when it makes sense to get on the plane and when not.”

This consideration is not only driven by the price, Christine Foerster believes: “The question of what the personal added value of the flight is and what you do to the planet with it, concerns our customers much more today than it did a few years ago.” That is above all in families but also in companies. In the families, because the younger generations in particular are very aware of the problem of climate change. For companies, because they have to report their climate footprint – and every flight is reflected in the CO2 account.

Which also costs a lot: Lufthansa wants to be CO2-neutral by 2050. That’s a lofty goal for a company that reported 13.6 million metric tons of carbon emissions for 2021. This value is to be halved by the end of 2030.

“An ambitious goal,” agrees Foerster, but one for which a great deal is being done. Well, new aircraft consume up to 30 percent less fuel – modernizing the fleet costs 2.5 billion euros every year. Then Lufthansa is already using so-called SAF fuels – Sustainable Aviation Fuels, which are CO2-neutral.

DLD Munich is Hubert Burda Media’s digital conference. It will take place on May 20th to 22nd – for the first time since Corona again as a big event on site. DLD Munich’s motto is “Reality rules?!”. The keynote speeches and panels touch on all the important topics of the digital revolution. Virtual participation is free, only registration is required. All further information as well as the detailed program can be found here.

Together with the supermarket chain Rewe and the travel agency DER Tour, Lufthansa recently offered a climate-neutral package tour. Frequent flyers can also offset their CO2 consumption – they even get status miles for the surcharge. At least seven percent of frequent flyers are already using the offer.

There are also tons of little things that help to reduce CO2 emissions. Among other things, Lufthansa skims off this in the specially founded CleanTech Hub. Here the airline is looking for cooperation with young companies from the tech scene. Every quarter, the startups can present ideas on a so-called Pitch Day – for the last event, 200 applications came together, of which eight selected ones were presented on the Pitch Day. 80 projects have already been implemented in this way since 2019.

One of the ideas: Shark-Skin. The first aircraft are currently being covered with a special foil whose surface structure is based on the skin of sharks. Air resistance can be reduced by microscopically small grooves, and aircraft covered with this shark skin consume one percent less fuel.

Overall, however, Foerster warns that the aviation industry must pick up speed in order to achieve the ambitious goals. And it makes politicians responsible: on the one hand, new (and usually expensive) technologies would have to be incentivized – for example through innovation funds. On the other hand, approval procedures would also have to be accelerated. “During the corona pandemic, for example, the rapid approval of vaccines worked because many things were overturned. Can’t we also do something like this when transforming entire industries?” If innovations are not specifically promoted and facilitated, Europe is in danger of losing its status as an innovation driver in the long term.