by Josephine Cordero Sapién
30 Jan 2020
Climate Change and Sustainability
Sustainable Aviation Fuel
A business aircraft was refuelled with a mix of sustainable and conventional fuel at Zurich Airport for the first time on 20 January.
As a result of a close collaboration between Jet Aviation, Zurich Airport, and Finnish renewable jet fuel producer Neste, ‘sustainable aviation fuel’ (SAF) was available for business jets departing the airport during the World Economic Forum, held in Davos, 21–24 January.
The joint project between Jet Aviation, Zurich Airport and Neste is a first for Switzerland. Neste’s sustainable aviation fuel ‘MY Renewable Jet Fuel’ cuts greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80 percent compared to jet fuel from fossil sources.
“From logistics to import and distribution on site, significant hurdles have to be overcome before a jet can be fuelled with SAF at a Swiss airport. I’m all the more delighted that, together with our partners at Zurich Airport and the Swiss authorities, we have managed to prove that this is possible.”
Sustainable aviation fuels are one path via which the negative impact of air travel on the environment can be reduced. These fuels would allow flights to avoid emitting additional carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere. They work by using renewable feedstock that has already bound carbon dioxide, meaning that the sustainable aviation fuel is almost carbon-neutral.
At the moment, Switzerland has to import sustainable aviation fuels. The premiere at Zurich Airport demonstrates, however, that it is possible to set up a viable supply chain.
“We began preparing for the prestigious WEF event months ago and have been working very closely with the Zurich Airport managerial team and Swiss Authorities to ensure we could gain all the necessary approvals to import sustainable aviation fuel in time for WEF. I would like to take this opportunity to extend sincere thanks to Zurich Airport for their unwavering support in bringing SAF to Zurich. It has also been our distinct pleasure to work with Neste, whose commitment to developing renewable energy solutions makes sustainable aviation possible.”
All types of sustainable aviation fuels currently available are certified and equivalent to conventional jet fuels with regard to their technical properties. SAF is currently around three to four times the price of conventional jet fuel. It is important that investment and research into such fuels make them a more cost-effective, viable option. Zurich Airport wants this premiere to act as a nudge to policy makers to establish a framework to improve both the availability and marketability of SAF. One option, according to the airport, would be to use the proceeds from a national flight ticket levy to promote sustainable aviation fuels – something currently under discussion in the National Parliament of Switzerland. This could help cut carbon emissions in aviation at source.
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