IATA has set out an aim for one billion
passengers to fly on flights powered by a mix of jet fuel and
sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2025.
This aspiration was
identified on the tenth anniversary of the first flight to blend
sustainable aviation fuel and ordinary jet fuel.
On 24 February 2008, a Virgin Atlantic Boeing
747 flew from London to Amsterdam with sustainable aviation fuel
in one of its engines. The flight demonstrated the viability of
drop-in biofuels, which can be blended with traditional jet fuel,
using existing airport infrastructure. A flight completely powered
by sustainable fuel has the potential to reduce the carbon
emissions of that flight by up to 80%.
“The momentum for sustainable aviation fuels is
now unstoppable. From one flight in 2008, we passed the threshold
of 100,000 flights in 2017, and we expect to hit one million
flights during 2020. But that is still just a drop in the ocean
compared to what we want to achieve. We want 1 billion passengers
to have flown on a SAF-blend flight by 2025. That won’t be easy to
achieve. We need governments to set a framework to incentivize
production of SAF and ensure it is as attractive to produce as
automotive biofuels,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director
General and CEO.
The push to increase uptake of SAF is being
driven by the airline industry’s commitment to achieve
carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and to cut net carbon emissions by
50% compared to 2005.
A number of airlines, including Cathay
Pacific, FedEx Express, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Qantas, and United,
have made significant investments by forward-purchasing 1.5
billion gallons of SAF.
Airports in Oslo, Stockholm, Brisbane and
Los Angeles are already mixing SAF with the general fuel supply.
On the present uptake trajectory it is anticipated that half a
billion passengers will have flown on a SAF-blend powered flight
by 2025. But if governments, through effective policy, help the
sustainable fuel industry to scale-up its production, it is
possible that one billion passengers could experience an SAF
flight by 2025. The steps needed to deliver this include:
* Allowing SAF to compete with automotive
biofuels through equivalent or magnified incentives
* Loan guarantees and capital grants for
* Supporting SAF demonstration plants and supply
chain research and development
* Harmonized transport and energy policies,
coordinated with the involvement of agriculture and military
Acknowledging that some sources of biofuels for
land transport have been criticized for their environmental
credentials, de Juniac emphasized strongly the determination of
the industry to only use truly sustainable sources for its
“The airline industry is clear, united and
adamant that we will never use a sustainable fuel that upsets the
ecological balance of the planet or depletes its natural
resources,” he said.