UPS bids farewell to MD-11F from Europe

The U.S. integrator, United Parcel Service, will no longer fly to Europe with MD-11 freighters on scheduled services. This was confirmed by company spokesman, Holger Ostwald, when asked by CargoForwarder Global. However, he did not give a specific date for the final continental cargo flight of the ‘ELEVEN’. In a first reaction, the airport management at Cologne-Bonn has warmly welcomed the decision.

Soon, MD-11 freighters operated by UPS will no longer be seen in Europe except on charter missions – courtesy UPS

Cologne-Bonn is the integrator’s largest international hub after Louisville, Kentucky. There, its MD-11F workhorses will soon be replaced by the significantly larger Boeing 747-8F. The aircraft is much more modern and offers key advantages as shown by the uplift capacity of 133 tons versus the 94 tons that an ELEVEN accommodates. Another benefit is the capability of burning sustainable aviation fuel to power 4 turbines whereas the tanks of the three-engined MF-11F are filled with traditional Jet-A1 kerosene. Hence, the B747-8F emits 90% less greenhouse gas when using SAF compared to the emissions of its forerunner manufactured by airframer McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach, California. However, the prerequisite is that sufficient quantities of SAF are available and customers are willing to pay the higher price compared to fossil kerosene.

B747-8F as a testing ground
“We have very close ties to the city of Cologne, where we have been involved with the Air Hub since 1986,” says Laura Lane, UPS Chief Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer.

She indicated that the B747-8F will soon become the integrator’s testing ground for new sustainable logistics solutions. “Similar to the introduction of our latest cargo bikes and electric delivery vehicles in the city center, the switch to quieter and more fuel-efficient aircraft is evidence of our commitment to achieving the global goal of carbon neutrality by 2050,” emphasizes Ms. Lane.

Less noise
In addition to this specific beneficial environmental aspect, Thilo Schmid, CEO of Flughafen Cologne/Bonn GmbH, points to another advantage resulting from the fleet modernization: lower noise emissions. “Our airport is a modern hub that is not only efficient and customer-friendly, but also sustainable and environmentally conscious,” emphasizesthe executive. He goes on to say: “We are therefore delighted that, together with our long-standing and close partner UPS, we are now achieving the joint goal of no longer using the MD 11F in regular operations, and replacing them with quieter aircraft of the latest generation. This shows that progress and a focus on sustainability and good neighborly relations can go hand in hand.”

The airport possesses a 24/7/365 operating permit, but there are repeated complaints from local residents about aircraft noise. This is even more remarkable given that the latest generation of aircraft is significantly quieter than previous models, which caused a much greater noise footprint.

Lowering emissions on the ground
In addition to UPS, its direct competitors, FedEx Express and DHL Airways, also use Cologne-Bonn as a hub for their scheduled flights. This traffic is complemented by traditional cargo airlines such as Istanbul-based MNG, for instance, which offer main deck capacity, as well as passenger airlines that carry air freight in the lower deck compartments of their jetliners.

As part of the U.S. integrator’s broader commitment to sustainable operations at CGN, UPS now uses 100% hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO), to power large ground support equipment such as hoists, belt loaders, tankers and de-icing vehicles. All electrical processes at the package delivery company’s Air Hub, such as the 38 km conveyor system, are powered by electricity from renewable sources.

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