The International Air Transport Association has set out an aim for one billion passengers to fly on flights powered by a mix of jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuel by 2025.
This aspiration was identified on the tenth anniversary of the first flight to blend sustainable aviation fuel and ordinary jet fuel.
In 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 per cent.
“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 one 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 director general.
The push to increase uptake of sustainable aviation fuel is being driven by the airline industry’s commitment to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and to cut net carbon emissions by 50 per cent 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 sustainable aviation fuel.
Airports in Oslo, Stockholm, Brisbane and Los Angeles are already mixing sustainable aviation fuel with the general fuel supply.
On the present uptake trajectory it is anticipated that half a billion passengers will have flown on a sustainable aviation fuel -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 sustainable aviation fuel flight by 2025.