What Is Sustainable Aviation Fuel And Why Should You Care?

Sustainable Aviation Fuel (or SAF) is a growing trend in the aviation industry as airlines work to curtail…

What Is Sustainable Aviation Fuel And Why Should You Care?

Sustainable Aviation Fuel (or SAF) is a growing trend in the aviation industry as airlines work to curtail CO2 emissions. Despite that, in 2018, these fuels accounted for less than 0.01% of the aviation fuel consumed. Something has to change. So, what exactly is SAF, and why does it matter?

How are SAFs making flying more sustainable? Photo: Getty Images

The case for Sustainable Aviation Fuel

A round-trip from London to San Francisco costs our atmosphere around one ton of CO2 emissions. That means for every passenger traveling in economy class between these destinations, CO2 emissions are produced equivalent to driving more than 3,700 miles in a diesel car. That certainly puts things into perspective.

With the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) predicting 8.2bn travelers in the next 17 years, it’s clear that emissions from the aviation industry will only rise. That’s where SAFs come in.

If airlines adopt sustainable fuel on some of the services in place of conventional fossil fuels, they could save around 80% on their carbon footprint for these more eco-friendly services. That’s because SAFs are, as the name suggests, much more sustainable that dredging the earth for fuel.

Delta Air Lines desk at CDG
With more and more passengers due to take to the skies, airlines must invest in new sustainable fuels. Photo: Getty Images

How are SAFs made?

Sustainable Aviation Fuel is diverse because there is not a single method of making it. Earlier this month, we reported that Lufthansa is planning to make SAF from sunlight. While Lufthansa’s approach is particularly innovative and newfangled, there are plenty more accessible options out there. Some SAFs use cooking oils and non-palm waste oil, while others depend on solid waste. The aim here is not to get alignment across the field but to reduce the carbon footprint of the industry. Ergo, airlines are free to develop SAFs as they wish.

This experimentation is vital since the distinct benefit of using fossil fuels is that it’s more cost-effective, and the infrastructure already exists. This makes damaging fuel options more preferential to a healthy balance sheet and easier to get hold of. With the powers of experimentation, airlines can decide for themselves what SAF best suits their business.

plane flies over landfill
SAF can be created from solid waste. Photo: Getty Images

Which airlines are using SAF?

Despite the interest, the uptake on SAFs at the moment is relatively low, potentially because of the effort required to invest in this new technology.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), at the start of 2019, just five airports in the world were using biofuels (SAFs that come from biological sources like plants) in regular supply. These were:

  • Bergen Airport, Norway
  • Brisbane Airport, Australia
  • Los Angeles International Airport, United States
  • Oslo Airport, Norway
  • Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Sweden.

When it comes to airlines, a few have invested in making SAFs part of their regular operations. In 2019, United Airlines purchased 10 million gallons of biofuel to use in the next two years. KLM is one of the airlines leading the way in sustainability and, at the end of last year, was looking to introduce biofuel at its hub in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Delta Air Lines is also hoping to make biofuels from debris from the forest floor. And SAS allows its passengers to buy blocks of biofuel-powered sections on their flight.

KLM biofuel airport
KLM will use biofuel at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Photo: KLM

A lot is going on, so what’s the significance?

Why is SAF so important?

Operating on SAF is an excellent way for airlines to demonstrate their commitment to a sustainable future of the industry. Many carriers are bound by the obligations from CORSIA, which aim to half CO2 emissions by 2050 in comparison to emissions rates in 2005.

For that to happen, airlines cannot simply continue to operate as usual. They want to grow and should be doing that responsibly. Under the CORSIA agreement, all affected airlines should now be making carbon-neutral growth their priority.

SAF is the latest progression for the airline industry to develop alongside climate goals. It is evident that there is still a long way to go, but these hopeful beginnings signal that the industry has its heart in the right place.

Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. 

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Which Airlines Have Retired Aircraft Since The Pandemic Started?

When COVID-19 was finally recognized as a pandemic, most airlines may not have fully realized what it might…

Which Airlines Have Retired Aircraft Since The Pandemic Started?

When COVID-19 was finally recognized as a pandemic, most airlines may not have fully realized what it might mean for their fleets. However, as the weeks went by and the seriousness and long-term ramifications of the virus became clear, carriers all over the world have continued to re-evaluate their fleet structures and hasten the retirement timelines of their older and less efficient jets. So which airlines have retired aircraft since the pandemic started?

To date, Lufthansa had already decommissioned seven Airbus A380s. Photo: Getty Images

A moving target

Trying to write a comprehensive list of airlines retiring aircraft is akin to aiming at a moving target. Surely, some airlines are mulling aircraft retirements but have yet to officially make their announcements. Others may start to consider aircraft retirement months from now if the situation doesn’t improve.

As a result, we’ll try to make this list as accurate as possible at the time of writing but we may need to write a follow-up piece later this season!

Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic is saying goodbye to its 747 fleet. Photo: Getty Images

The list

Without further delay, here is what we know so far of aircraft retirements:

  • Air Canada is sending 79 planes into early retirement. This includes Boeing 767s, Airbus A319s, and Embraer 190s.
  • Air France will retire all nine of its remaining Airbus A380s.
  • American Airlines is saying goodbye to 17 767-300ERs this month. It is also retiring its 757s, a number of Boeing 737s, Embraer 190s, and Airbus A330-300s. The airline has decided to keep its fleet of 15 Airbus A330-200 aircraft in long-term storage into 2022. It remains to be seen if these will return at that time. Finally, the carrier has yet to announce the retirement of its Boeing 777s but it may be something to monitor closely.
  • Austrian Airlines is to retire half of its Boeing 767 fleet. As the airline operates six such aircraft, this would see three remain.
  • Corsair, a TUI subsidiary, is retiring its three Boeing 747-400s one year earlier than planned.
  • Delta Air Lines will say goodbye to its MD-88 and MD-90 jets next month. The airline will also retire all 18 of its Boeing 777s by the end of this year.
  • KLM said goodbye to its aging Boeing 747s in March – although some were brought out of retirement for cargo-only operations.
  • Lufthansa has already announced the retirement of seven Airbus A380s. The carrier has made no mention of its aging A340s. Again, this is something to keep an eye on.
  • Singapore Airlines has opted to retire its 777-200ERs earlier than expected.
  • Virgin Atlantic will say goodbye to its seven Boeing 747-400s. The airline also finally retired the last of its Airbus A340 aircraft at the end of March.
Air Canada Rouge
Air Canada will say goodbye to 79 aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

Airlines to watch

The airlines below have yet to formally announce any retirement of their older aircraft. However, given the trend and the current state of aviation, these carriers are definitely worth keeping an eye on:

  • British Airways has an aging fleet of 747s which will eventually be replaced by the 777X and A350. However, no announcements have been made yet.
  • Emirates may speed up the retirement of 46 of the airline’s 115-strong fleet of A380s. No concrete timeline has been provided yet.
  • Qantas has constantly faced rumors that it will retire its A380 fleet at some point.
  • Qatar Airways may also speed up the retirement of its A380s.
  • United Airlines may follow American’s lead and retire its 767s and 757s.
KLM’s big blue 747s have been retired from commercial passenger service. Photo: KLM


While its sad to see some iconic aircraft leave some iconic airlines, the costs of maintenance and upkeep for long-term aircraft parking and storage would add up fast – especially for larger airlines. Thus, in a prudent move to reduce cash burn, and prepare for the multi-year recovery process, airlines must ‘bite the bullet’ and say goodbye to their oldest aircraft.

Did we miss any airlines? Who else do you think will join this list? Let us know in the comments and we’ll update this list!

Source : Simple Flying More   

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