Business aviation sector follows up sustainability commitment with SAF purchase agreements
Thu 24 Sept 2020 – Coinciding with the Virtual 2020 Business Aviation Sustainability Summit, four organisations from the sector – Gulfstream Aerospace, NetJets, VistaJet and Signature Flight Support – have announced purchase agreements with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) suppliers. Opening the Summit, the first organised by a coalition of business aviation industry and fuel groups, NBAA President Ed Bolen said SAF represented an enormous breakthrough in tackling the sector’s environmental impact. Gulfstream said it was extending a SAF supply contract with World Fuel Services while VistaJet will secure availability for its customers globally of SAF sourced and delivered by SkyNRG. The fuel for both Gulfstream and VistaJet will be produced by World Energy. Neste has agreed to supply Signature and NetJets with SAF at San Francisco and London Luton airports. The Finnish renewable fuel producer has also just signed a SAF supply agreement with Shell Aviation.
The Gulfstream contract extension with World Fuel Services follows an agreement signed in 2015 – the first of its kind in business aviation, claims the aircraft manufacturer. Since March 2016, it has used 30/70 blended SAF for its Savannah-based fleet, which comprises corporate, demonstration, completion, customer support aircraft, on more than 650 flights covering 1.3 million nautical miles that saved around 1,700 tonnes of CO2.
The renewable fuel produced at World Energy’s refinery in Paramount, California, come from a feedstock of agricultural waste, fats and oils. The logistics are managed by World Fuel Services, which distributes the SAF to Gulfstream HQ and also makes it available for customers at its Van Nuys and Long Beach, California, service centres.
“This renewal marks another step in our ongoing commitment to promoting positive change in our industry,” said Gulfstream’s President, Mark Burns. “For almost a decade, we have leveraged our collaboration with World Energy to increase awareness and availability of SAF around the world. We look forward to continuing that work.”
In 2019, the company launched a service that allows operators to pay a usage-based annual fee towards activities that generate an equal reduction in carbon emissions, helping them to offset the carbon footprint of their flights. The offsets fund certified and verified projects covering wind energy, forest management, farm power and the recovery and utilisation of landfill gas.
Following the launch of its ‘Sustainability in Aviation’ programme in January, European private jet charter company VistaJet teamed with project developer South Pole to offer its members certified carbon credits to compensate for their fuel use related emissions. Since then, VistaJet reports 80% of members have opted in to the programme, with nearly 100,000 tonnes of CO2 offset so far. A further 21,500 tonnes emitted from intra-European flights were additionally covered by the EU ETS between January and August 2020.
The company has now announced a partnership with Amsterdam-based SkyNRG that will enable all VistaJet customers around the world access to SAF, which will be sourced from World Energy’s Paramount refinery.
“This will promote substantial reductions in aviation carbon emissions and increase stable demand and availability around the world,” said VistaJet. “Partnering with SkyNRG will offer our customers the most sustainable, cost-effective and scalable solution to decarbonise their flights, while helping to grow adoption across the entire industry.”
As part of its sustainability programme, VistaJet has introduced a number of additional measures to reduce its carbon footprint and improve sustainability, including investment in fuel consumption reduction technology, a fuel efficient booking system, sustainable in-flight products, moving to renewable electricity on the ground and partnering with carbon neutral companies wherever possible.
“VistaJet is committed to making aviation better. Today, this means changing the way we operate, to benefit not only our customers, but the whole global community. In this spirit, I hope our private aviation partners and peers will do the same, working collaboratively to bring change faster, as this is the only way for the fragmented industry to take full responsibility for the log-term health of the planet,” said VistaJet Chairman Thomas Flohr.
“In addition to adhering to market-based measures and improving existing infrastructure, enhancing operational procedures and developing new technological innovations is crucial. We are positive about the future and we believe together we can transform business aviation for the long-term good.”
Signature Flight Support, a fixed-base operator (FBO) offering support services to business and private aviation at 200 locations worldwide, has launched a company-wide global sustainability initiative called Signature Renew. Central to the programme is accelerating the use of SAF for private aircraft and the company is initially establishing permanent supplies of SAF at San Francisco International (SFO) and London Luton Airport. An agreement in principle has been reached with Neste to purchase 5 million gallons of Neste MY Renewable Jet Fuel, which Signature claims is the largest agreement to date by a FBO. Global private jet operator NetJets will be the launch customer for Signature Renew supplied SAF at SFO.
SAF gallons purchased via Signature SFO will take advantage of the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard tax incentive programme, said Signature, while Luton operators using SAF can reduce their obligations under the EU ETS. Once blended at a 35% ratio, Signature anticipates more than a 25% reduction in direct net lifecycle GHG emissions from aircraft using the SFO and Luton blends.
“Prior to establishing a permanent supply of SAF, FBOs have only been able to provide a few thousand gallons at one time – typically by request of an individual aircraft operator or for a one-off event,” explained Tony Lefebvre, Chief Operating Officer for Signature. “We are committed to having SAF available for uplift in San Francisco in the next few weeks, culminating in the world’s first 100% sustainably supplied FBO in Q1 2021. By having the first FBO in the world that is able to offer operators a reliable, full volume supply of SAF at a competitive price only a few dollars beyond traditional Jet A, we are providing the critical acceleration that industry trade groups and aviation regulators have cited as a necessary step on the path to widespread adoption.”
Under a non-exclusive agreement, NetJets has committed to purchase up to 3 million gallons of SAF at SFO, a large portion of Signature’s total volume at the airport, and all NetJets aircraft visiting SFO will be supplied with Neste’s fuel, uplifted by Signature.
“This first initiative helps to lay the groundwork for our sustainability programme, which aims to solidify our unwavering commitment to excellence,” said Brad Ferrell, NetJets’ EVP Administrative Services.
Chris Cooper, VP Renewable Aviation North America for Neste, added: “People who travel by private aircraft know there’s an environmental impact and many of them want a more sustainable option. In fact, a good number of people relying on private aviation are either working for companies with established climate goals or individuals who have personally committed to fighting climate change. This partnership means that passengers can look forward to being able to board a private aircraft fuelled by SAF and help fight – not contribute – to climate change in the near future.”
Neste said its new SAF supply agreement with Shell Aviation, which takes effect from October, would significantly increase the supply and availability of SAF for the aviation industry.