- Middle East carrier Qatar Airways will get 3,000 metric tonnes of neat Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) from oil giant Shell.
- The contract running through 2023-2024, is part of a wider effort initiated by the Oneworld Alliance.
- CEO Al Baker says the airline remains steadfast in its ambitious target of 10 per cent SAF use by 2030.
Middle East carrier Qatar Airways has entered into an agreement to use 5 per cent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in a deal with energy giant Shell signed at Amsterdam.
The contract running through the fiscal year 2023-2024, is part of a wider effort initiated by the Oneworld Alliance. The agreement has a set target of using 10 percent sustainable aviation fuel by 2030.
Qatar becomes the first carrier in the Middle East and Africa to procure huge SAF in Europe beyond government mandates. Sustainable aviation fuel offers significant potential for decarbonisation. This is because neat SAF cuts full lifecycle emissions by about 80 percent compared to conventional jet fuel.
Meanwhile, on June 7th, Kenya Airways (KQ) became the first African airline to use sustainable aviation fuel. The SAF for Kenya’s flag carrier for the long-haul flight from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Amsterdam Schiphol was provided by Italian oil major Eni.
Increase use of sustainable aviation fuel
The sustainable aviation fuel will see Qatar Airways reduce its emissions on flights from Amsterdam by approximately 7,500 tonnes of CO2 for the fiscal year.
Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker said: “At Qatar Airways, we are strongly committed to supporting the industry’s effort to ramp up the use of sustainable aviation fuel, as one of the key pillars to decarbonise the aviation industry.”
Last year, the airline signed its first offtake agreement in the US. “Now we are placing a multi-million US dollar SAF deal in Amsterdam to illustrate our SAF commitment and reiterate our calls for a more robust SAF supply chain across our global network,” he said.
In a statement on Monday, Mr Al Baker said the airline remains steadfast in its ambitious target of 10 per cent SAF use by 2030.
The announcement establishes another landmark for Qatar Airways that underlines the positive outcome of the industry’s collaboration, which is critical to accelerating the SAF supply and achieving targets. SAF is still three to five times more expensive than fossil-based jet fuel.
This is why it is essential for all stakeholders to play their part in facilitating research and development of SAF facilities, enhancing economies of scale, providing financing and placing supportive policies.
SAF a key lever for decarbonising aviation
“Qatar Airways and Shell have a history of collaboration. So, it is fantastic to now work together on decarbonisation as we supply them with SAF for the first time,” said Mr Jan Toschka, President of Shell Aviation.
He noted that SAF is a key lever for decarbonising aviation. However, scaling its supply and use requires concerted action from players across the aviation sector.
“Today’s agreement is a great example of the collaborative actions that are required to help accelerate aviation’s progress towards net zero,” Mr Toschka said.
Passengers and customers of Qatar Airways can compensate for their flight emissions. They do so through the purchase of high-quality carbon credits under UN-backed International Civil Aviation Organisation.
Qatar Airways currently invests in carbon credit projects that generate renewable energy, which help in reducing carbon emissions.
The carrier is working on a system that allows passengers and customers to offset their emissions. The deal explores ways in which customers will contribute to SAF costs.
Eye on Environmental, Social and Governance
Advisory firm KPMG say carbon reduction challenge continues to loom large over the aviation sector. KPMG adds that stakeholders in the sector acknowledge and appreciate the need for immediate action.
“Flight shame’, the imposition of environmental related taxes and regulations, and the increased Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) focus of investors, are real concerns for the industry,” KPMG explains.
While aviation contributes around 2.5 percent of global CO2 emissions, it’s path to reducing its carbon footprint unclear. This is unlike other sectors of the global economy.
Offsetting is one option for managing current carbon output. But this is an area that requires more oversight and regulation. Some stakeholders also view it as a temporary rather than long-term solution, KPMG said.
Whereas sustainable aviation fuel remains relevant, there are significant challenges in terms of supply and cost.
Reducing carbon footprint
There has been interesting partnerships by some lessors in relation to SAF. But a concerted effort across the sector and governments is needed for SAF to drive decarbonisation. Already, IATA has set out plans that it hopes it will manage in the journey of carbon reduction, KPMG said.
The wider leasing community has also sought to play a great role in the ESG challenge. For instance Aircraft Leasing Ireland, a lobby representing the aircraft leasing sector in Ireland developed their sustainability charter last year.
There is an acknowledgment from the sector that it has an important role in reducing carbon output.
“There are no quick and easy fixes, but we are seeing lessors set ambitious sustainability objectives and they are looking to increase collaboration across the industry to help drive meaningful solutions,” the firm said.