Sustainable fuels remain vital

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IATA called for the International Energy Agency (IEA) to prioritize investment in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to help power aviation’s contribution to the post-COVID-19 recovery.

Investment in SAF would boost aviation’s progress towards its goal to cut aviation emissions to half 2005 levels by 2050. Current SAF production rates are too low for aviation to reach this goal despite SAF’s proven potential:

  • SAF can cut CO2 lifecycle emissions up to 80% compared with conventional jet fuel
  • SAF uses sustainable fuel sources that do not compete with food or water, or damage biodiversity. 
  • SAF are certified as safe, sustainable, and ready-to-use.
  • SAF blends have already been used on over 250,000 flights.

“The enormous amounts of money that governments are investing in the economic recovery from COVID-19 are an opportunity to create a legacy of energy transition for the aviation industry,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “To achieve this, governments, the finance community, and the fuel producers—both large and small—must work together with the goal of rapidly increasing production of affordable sustainable aviation fuel.”

IATA estimates that current SAF production is 50 million liters annually. To reach a tipping point where the scale of production will see SAF costs drop to levels competitive with jet fuel, production needs to reach 7 billion liters or 2% of 2019 consumption. 

“As much as airlines want to use SAF, production is well below the scale needed for prices to fall to competitive levels,” said de Juniac. “Attaining the right price point is even more crucial as industry losses and debt levels rise. But if governments can use this unique time to combine a safe fiscal and regulatory framework supporting SAF production with the direct allocation of stimulus funds to SAF production, it is possible to reach the 2% tipping point in 2025. That would power greener flight, create jobs, and fuel the economic recovery together.”

Picture Credit | iStock