The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Monday it is aiming for one billion passengers to fly on flights powered by a mix of jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2025.
This aspiration was identified on the 10th anniversary of the first flight to blend sustainable aviation fuel and ordinary jet fuel, said IATA.
On Feb. 24, 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, IATA said in a statement from Geneva.
“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,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
A flight completely powered by sustainable fuel has the potential to reduce the carbon emissions of that flight by up to 80 percent.
De Juniac said IATA realizes that achieving a tally of one billion passengers flying on flights powered by a mix of jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuel will not 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,” he said.
The push to increase uptake of SAF is being driven by the airline industry’s commitment to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and to cut net carbon emissions by 50 percent compared to 2005.
Airlines, including Cathay Pacific, FedEx Express, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Qantas, and United, have made significant investments by forward-purchasing 1.5 billion gallons of SAF, said IATA.
The air transport group said that on the present trajectory it is anticipated that half a billion passengers will have flown on a SAF-blend powered flight by 2025.
But, IATA said, 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 SAF flight by 2025.