Lufthansa responds to increased demand for sustainable travel options with costly Green Fares that include carbon offsetting in the price. Olivia Palamountain reports

Would you pay more for an airfare with 100 per cent carbon offsetting built into the ticket price? Lufthansa hopes so.

The German airline has introduced a menu of higher cost “Green Fare” ticket options for passengers looking for a more sustainable way to fly. Not only are all carbon emissions said to be offset by the pricier fare, but additional sweeteners include a free rebooking option and additional loyalty miles.

Offered by Lufthansa and its subsidiaries (Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Edelweiss, Eurowings Discover and Air Dolomiti), Green Fare tickets will be available on 730,000 flights a year within Europe and to Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

Christina Foerster, member of the Lufthansa Group’s executive board responsible for brand and sustainability, says: “The product launch is an important building block in our efforts to make air travel more climate-friendly.”

“The Lufthansa Group relies on a continuous dialogue and regularly informs its customers, stakeholders and the interested public through various channels about its responsibility to reduce the environmental impact of flying.”

Harry Hohmeister, member of the Lufthansa Group’s executive board responsible for global markets and network, says: “The Green Fares were already successfully tested last year for flights from Denmark, Sweden and Norway. This showed that the demand for more sustainable travel offers is increasing.

“Now we are consistently taking the next logical step and are adding Green Fares to our well-known fare structure for flights throughout Europe and North Africa. We are thus pioneering the industry and living up to our ambition to develop innovative solutions for aviation of the future. And we are making it even easier for our customers to book more sustainable offers.”

But just how will the cost to the climate be offset – and is the method viable or just another example of greenwashing?

According to Lufthansa, 20 per cent of its offsetting is said to come through using Sustainable Aviation Fuels, while the remaining 80 per cent will contribute to climate protection initiatives.

However, climate activists are questioning how the CO2 emissions will really be compensated, voicing concerns that the Green Fares will lull passengers into a false sense of security, leading them to believe their emissions have been dealt with.

As reported by The Independent, campaign organisation Flight Free UK  has tweeted: “Lufthansa is introducing a new Green(washing) Fare. So if you’re worried about aviation emissions, don’t be! You can just pay a little bit extra and it all magically goes away.”

Flight Free UK has since added another Twitter post criticising the move, by sharing an image of a “greenwash” advertising board which reads: “At Lufthansa we distract you with pictures of trees while we fry the planet.”

A Lufthansa spokesperson told The Independent: “The new Green Fares are an easy way for our customers to book a fare that makes flying more sustainable. The new fare directly includes the offsetting of flight-related CO2 emissions. The selected climate protection projects are audited according to the highest international standards (Gold Standard and Plan Vivo).

“The SAF currently used by the Lufthansa Group is produced in the HEFA process (Hydroprocessed Esters & Fatty Acids) from biogenic residual materials such as used cooking oils. It complies with the requirements of the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive II (RED II).

“The Lufthansa Group offers its customers a broad and individual range of services for offsetting the CO2 emissions caused by air travel. The company is consistently expanding this offer and meeting an increasing demand. The goal – also of the Green Fares – is to make climate-friendly flying even more common in the future.

Lufthansa is by no means the only airline feeling the heat from eco-activists.

Further airlines and companies trying to offset passenger guilt with green promises include Etihad Airways and the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, which have together launched the Etihad Mangrove Forest initiative to provide “guests, corporate accounts and partners” the ability to adopt mangrove trees in Abu Dhabi to offset their carbon footprint (read more here).

KLM, meanwhile, has been sued by environmental campaigners for greenwashing, who are accusing the airline of misleadingly promoting air travel as sustainable.

Activists from Fossielvrij NL are taking legal action against KLM’s Fly Responsibly campaign, which presents the airline as “creating a more sustainable future”.  The campaign states that the airline is on track to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, outlining its plans to launch hydrogen and electric planes and level up the use of synthetic kerosene from 2035.