Air France agrees SAF initiative on flights from San Francisco while KLM buys renewable fuel from Neste
Tue 10 Dec 2019 – Airline group partners Air France and KLM have each entered into new commitments to purchase sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Air France and Shell have signed a memorandum of undertaking with World Energy through which the airline plans to use SAF made from inedible waste fats and oils on flights from San Francisco with effect from 1 June 2020. No details have been released of how much fuel Air France intends to purchase but the initiative is expected to help save around 6,000 tons of CO2 over a period of 16 months. Meanwhile, KLM has purchased an undisclosed amount of SAF from Neste, which will be produced from used cooking oil and used on flights out of Amsterdam. For the first time, the fuel will be supplied through the existing infrastructure at Schiphol. KLM said the purchase had been made possible as a result of contributions to its Corporate BioFuel Programme, which Neste has announced it will join.
“Using sustainable aviation fuel is currently one of the most effective ways to reduce CO2 emissions in the airline industry,” said KLM CEO Pieter Elbers. “Owing largely to the companies taking part in the Programme, we have been able to make this purchase for the Dutch market, giving a further impulse to the consistent production of SAF.”
The airline said it only sources SAF based on waste and residue feedstocks that significantly reduce the carbon footprint and do not have a negative impact on food production or the environment. The sustainability of the supply chain is ensured through certification by the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification Plus and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, it stressed.
The blended fuel supplied to Schiphol will be treated as a drop-in fuel using the conventional fuel infrastructure, pipeline, and storage and hydrant system. KLM said the SAF was additional to the supply it was already taking at Los Angeles and was intended to bridge the period until the opening of a new Dutch SAF production plant in Delfzijl, due to open in 2022. The plant, which is being developed by SkyNRG with the support of KLM and industry partners, will supply the airline with 75,000 tonnes of SAF per year.
Neste reported its renewable jet fuel annual capacity in the US and Europe is currently 100,000 tonnes. With further expansion underway, it said it will have the capacity to produce over one million tonnes globally by 2022.
KLM’s Corporate BioFuel Programme enables companies and organisations to ensure SAF is used for all or a portion of their air travel. Participants pay a surcharge that covers the difference in price between SAF and regular kerosene. With Neste, there are now 16 partners in the programme, including ABN AMRO, Accenture, Microsoft, Schiphol Group and the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. KLM’s public customers are invited to offset the emissions from their flights through the airline’s CO2 compensation service CO2ZERO.
Air France, meanwhile, said the RSB-certified fuel it intends purchasing from World Energy meets strict sustainability standards and can be delivered via San Francisco International’s hydrant system.
“Sustainable aviation fuels are integral to our sustainability approach,” commented Anne Rigail, CEO of Air France. “They constitute an immediate concrete response to our environmental challenges and we must encourage their production. This initiative in California demonstrates that when States set up incentive mechanisms, production picks up and airlines are given the means to take action. We as a community must look at this as an example and duplicate it around the world, notably at home, in France.”
Responded Bryan Sherbacow, Chief Commercial Officer of World Energy: “The route to widespread availability and use of SAF is awareness and supportive policy similar to that of California. This important collaboration elevates visibility with both international consumers and legislators.”
Anna Mascolo, Vice President, Shell Aviation, said that along with new technologies and offsets, SAF had a major role to play in reducing emissions from air travel. “With urgent action and industry collaboration it is possible to fly and emit less. However, we are still at the beginning of the journey with significant opportunity to increase the supply of sustainable aviation fuel and replicate successes such as this globally. At Shell, we are committed to working with the industry towards a more sustainable aviation industry. Commitments like this from Air France can only help accelerate this journey, giving producers the assurance to invest in building refinery capacity and enabling us to develop the supply infrastructure required.”
As part of Air France’s sustainable development agenda for 2030, CO2 emissions are targeted to be cut by 50% compared to 2005, mainly through investment in fuel-efficient aircraft. It also recently announced that as from 1 January 2020, all emissions from domestic flights will be offset.
The airline has also entered into a partnership with the Solar Impulse Foundation to find solutions to accelerate the sustainable transition of the aviation sector. A digital platform has been set up to enable applications online and the foundation, using the criteria of its Solar Impulse Efficient Solution Label, will initially assess them based on their environmental impact, economic profitability and technological feasibility.
“Numerous clean and profitable solutions already exist to make aviation more sustainable. We want to promote and implement them at scale in the air and on the ground. This is precisely the objective of our partnership with Air France, who is committed to taking the lead in the future of clean aviation. The Solar Impulse Foundation is dedicated to helping them get there,” said its President, Bertrand Piccard.
Projects that meet the Label’s requirements will all be made available to the aviation industry, promised Air France. Those that come within “the framework of Air France’s trajectory” will be developed inside the company. Solutions put forward must address one or more of the following: carbon footprint; efficiency (e.g. fuel, weight), alternatives to single-use plastics and cabin waste management; clean ground operations; noise reduction; and aviation and new energies.
“My ambition is to offer everyone, both current and future generations, a responsible travel experience,” said Rigail. “We must step up the transition to a more sustainable air transport and we voluntarily make new commitments for today and 2030. The Solar Impulse Foundation is our partner of choice, to help innovate now and pioneer a more sustainable aviation for the future.”