Industries in Depth

Next time you fly, could you be boarding a train instead of a plane?

A flight information board displays cancelled flights during a strike by Belgian trade unions at Zaventem international airport near Brussels, Belgium, February 13, 2019.  REUTERS/Francois Lenoir - RC163A62AF10

Airlines are cutting deals with train operators to reduce carbon emissions in the transport sector. Image: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Douglas Broom
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Industries in Depth?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Innovation is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Innovation

  • Qatar Airways has signed a codeshare agreement with German rail firm Deutsche Bahn.
  • Under the deal, passengers can travel from Frankfurt airport to eight German cities by train.
  • Such schemes could help the transport sector reduce emissions as it looks to transition to net zero carbon emissions.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome aboard this Frankfurt to Stuttgart service. Our journey time will be 1 hour 20 minutes and we will be cruising at an altitude of... zero feet. This plane is, in fact, a train.”

Have you read?

This announcement may sound like a flight of fancy, but many Qatar Airways passengers making onward trips from Frankfurt airport will now be looking for their flight numbers on the side of a train instead of a plane departure board.

Qatar signed a codeshare deal with German rail firm Deutsche Bahn (DB) to make its tickets valid for rail journeys to eight German cities.

The airline already flies direct to Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. But now, tickets will be valid for onward travel on high-speed trains with Qatar flight numbers from Frankfurt to Cologne, Dusseldorf, Hannover, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich, Nuremberg and Stuttgart.

The deal builds on Qatar’s existing participation in DB’s Rail & Fly programme, under which passengers can buy flights that include an open ticket for train journeys from the airport to their final destination in Germany.

Down to earth

The term codeshare was coined in 1989 when Qantas and American Airlines agreed to sell seats on each other’s flights, with each airline using their own flight number for the same journey.

The agreements allow airlines to add new destinations to their networks at a fraction of the cost of buying new planes, and offer customers more choice. And while they have been criticized for sometimes causing confusion at departure gates and limiting competition on less well-used routes, a European Union review found they were advantageous to both customers and airlines.

The Qatar deaI is the latest example of airline companies extending these deals to rail operators.

In the United States, United Airlines has a codeshare with rail operator Amtrak for passengers travelling from its hub at Newark to cities in Connecticut, Delaware and Pennsylvania. Travellers can even earn airline mileage points for the train segment of their journeys.

And in Europe, Dutch airline KLM and Austrian Airlines have made similar moves.

carbon dioxide emissions sector
CO2 emissions by sector or source Image: Our World in Data

The journey to net zero

As well as the logistical benefits to airlines and customers, such schemes could help airlines cut CO2 emissions by providing an alternative to some domestic flights, which could help companies in the sector as aviation and other industries around the globe transition towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Discover

What is the World Economic Forum doing to reduce aviation's carbon footprint?

The aviation industry produces around 2% of all human-induced CO2 emissions and 12% of all CO2 emissions from the transport sector. This is a fraction of the emissions from road transport, which is responsible for three-quarters of all emissions from the sector.

The airline industry has committed to reducing net carbon emissions to half 2005 levels by 2050 and improving fleet fuel efficiency by 1.5% a year.

The World Economic Forum’s Mission Possible Platform says it’s technically and economically feasible for transport, including aviation and sectors like heavy-duty road transport and shipping, to become net carbon neutral by 2050. But urgent action must be taken to achieve that goal.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Industries in DepthClimate Action
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

1:50

Top 5 countries leading the sustainable tourism sector

Robin Pomeroy and Linda Lacina

April 29, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum