Airbus, the world’s largest manufacturer of airliners, has announced plans to renew its fleet of transatlantic ships with lower-emission vessels. By 2030, the new fleet is expected to generate 50% fewer CO2 emissions compared to 2023.
Airbus says its entire fleet of chartered vessels that it uses to transport aircraft subassemblies between production facilities in Europe and the United States will be replaced with three modern, low-emission roll-on/roll-off vessels, powered by wind-assisted propulsion.
Shipowner Louis Dreyfus Armateurs has been commissioned by Airbus to build, own, and operate the new vessels, which will be operational from 2026.
The new fleet will gradually replace Airbus’ chartered vessels that transport its aircraft subassemblies between Saint-Nazaire, France, and its single-aisle aircraft final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama.
The renewal of the fleet is projected to reduce average annual transatlantic CO2 emissions from 68,000 to 33,000 tonnes by 2030, aligning with Airbus’ commitment to reduce its overall industrial emissions by up to 63% by the end of the decade, in line with the 1.5°C pathway of the Paris Agreement.
Nicolas Chrétien, Head of Sustainability & Environment at Airbus, described the marine fleet renewal as a major step forward in reducing the company’s environmental impact. “The latest generation of vessels proposed by Louis Dreyfus Armateurs are more fuel-efficient, using cutting-edge technologies like wind-assisted propulsion. This demonstrates our determination to lead the way in decarbonizing our sector,” she said.
The new vessels will be powered by a combination of six Flettner rotors and dual-fuel engines running on maritime diesel oil and e-methanol. Routing software will optimize the vessels’ journey, maximizing wind propulsion and avoiding adverse ocean conditions.
The fleet renewal not only contributes to Airbus’ environmental goals but also supports its ambition to increase A320 family production rate to 75 aircraft per month by 2026. Each new transatlantic vessel will have the capacity to transport around seventy 40-foot containers and six single-aisle aircraft subassembly sets.
“We are very pleased to have been selected by Airbus to develop this state-of-the-art and low-emission fleet and to continue our longstanding partnership,” said Edouard Louis-Dreyfus, President, Louis Dreyfus Armateurs. “This new project, setting high 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 sustainably driving change.”
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