Airbus will renew the entire fleet of chartered vessels transporting aircraft subassemblies between production facilities in Europe and the United States with three modern low-emission ro-ro vessels, supported by wind-assisted propulsion.
Airbus has commissioned shipowner Louis Dreyfus Armateurs to build, own and operate these new highly efficient vessels that will enter service from 2026.
The new fleet is expected to reduce annual transatlantic CO2 emissions from 68,000 to 33,000 tonnes by 2030. This will contribute to Airbus' commitment to reduce its total industrial emissions by up to 63% by the end of the decade, compared to 2015 as the year baseline, in line with the 1.5°C trajectory of the Paris Agreement.
"The renewal of our maritime fleet is a major step forward in reducing our environmental impact," said Nicolas Chrétien, Director of Sustainability and Environment at Airbus. "The latest generation of vessels proposed by Louis Dreyfus Armateurs are more fuel efficient than their predecessors, using cutting-edge technologies such as wind-assisted propulsion. This demonstrates our determination to lead the way towards the decarbonisation of our sector by innovating not just in aviation, but in all of our industrial operations."
“We are very pleased to have been selected by Airbus to develop this next-generation, low-emission fleet, and continue our long-standing partnership,” said Edouard Louis-Dreyfus, President of Louis Dreyfus Armateurs. "This new project, which sets lofty targets, reflects our ambition regarding the decarbonisation of the shipping industry. We are proud to support our customers in their energy transition, going even beyond their expectations by offering innovative solutions and driving change in a sustainable way".
Airbus will gradually renew leased vessels that transport subassemblies of its aircraft across the Atlantic between Saint-Nazaire, France, and its single-aisle aircraft final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama.
The new vessels will be powered by a combination of six Flettner rotors – large rotating cylinders that generate lift from the wind, propelling the ship forward – and two dual-fuel engines that run on marine diesel and e-methanol. Additionally, the routing software will optimize the vessels' journey across the Atlantic, maximizing wind propulsion and avoiding drag caused by adverse ocean conditions.
The fleet renewal also supports Airbus' ambition to increase the production rate of the A320 family to 75 aircraft per month by 2026. Each new transatlantic vessel will have the capacity to carry around seventy 40-foot (12.2 meter) containers. ) and six sets of single-aisle aircraft subassemblies (wings, fuselage, engine pylons, horizontal and vertical stabilizers), compared to the three or four sets carried by current cargo ships.