Sustainable aviation fuel
The use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is a promising avenue for reducing the CO2 emissions from aviation. Such fuels are key to achieving Air France-KLM’s CO2 emission reduction targets as well as those of the aviation industry as a whole.
It is important to keep contributing to the establishment of a sustainable fuel industry for aviation. Both Air France and KLM have established innovative partnerships with corporate customers, suppliers, airports and logistics partners. However, strong government support accompanied by incentives are required for more wide scale deployment and the creation of economically viable production facilities for producers and operators alike.
SECURING STRICT SUSTAINABILITY CRITERIA
Sustainable aviation fuel has to meet stringent sustainability criteria. These include substantial reduction in CO2 emissions, a minimal impact on the environment and biodiversity, limited competition with food production or the availability of food resources, and a positive impact on the social development of local communities.
In order to ensure the supply of sustainable feedstock we have been members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) since 2008, as well as one of the founding members of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG).
The sustainable aviation fuel that KLM uses from SkyNRG went through a strict internal process to ensure feedstock sustainability. An independent Sustainability Board, formed by WWF, Solidaridad, European Climate Foundation and University of Groningen, advises on sustainability criteria of the alternative fuel. SkyNRG is certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials.
STIMULATING THE INDUSTRY
Air France and KLM are members of working groups and support research projects aimed at the creation of a Sustainable Aviation Fuel market. For example:
- Air France has joined forces with the ATAG (Air Transport Aviation Group) to promote, with the French Civil Aviation Research Council, greater knowledge of biofuels for aviation and thus raise public authority awareness of the need to support a French biofuels industry. Air France is also actively participating in the establishment of the French national road map on aviation biofuels managed by the National Alliance for Coordination of Research on Energy (ANCRE).
- KLM continued to purchase an annual 120,000 liters of SAF for its Växjö (Sweden) flights, equaling 5% of the total fuel use on all flights to/from that destination. Together with Södra and the City of Växjö, KLM and SkyNRG are investigating the feasibility of producing SAF locally.
- In 2017, Air France signed an Engagement for Green Growth (Engagement pour la Croissance Verte – ECV) with the French Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, the French Ministry of Transport and the French Ministry of the Economy and Finance, along with four other major French industrial companies (Airbus, Safran, Suez and Total). This Engagement for Green Growth aims to promote the emergence of sustainable aviation biofuel industries, in economically viable conditions that fully integrate circular economy principles. Its conclusions were published in January 2020, together with a French governmental roadmap to set, on the basis of the ECV recommendations, the principles and ambition for Sustainable Aviation Fuel incorporation and the launch of a call for expressions of interest to build production facilities in France.
SUPPORTING REGULATORY INCENTIVES IN FRANCE AND THE NETHERLANDS, AND AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL
Air France and KLM are actively involved (KLM co-chairing) in the European Advanced Biofuels Flightpath initiative. They are also members of the ART Fuels Forum.
Furthermore, Air France has participated in the Ini-FCA French Future Alternative Fuels initiative, spearheaded by the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC). Within the CORAC (Council for Civil Aeronautical Research), the company actively participates in formulating a sustainable biofuels strategy involving coordinated actions to further technological research and innovation towards the attainment of ecological transition objectives within a global context.
KLM is actively involved in the BioPort Holland, a collaboration between the Dutch Government and several private parties with a collective ambition of launching sustainable aviation fuel production in the Netherlands.
INNOVATING IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN
KLM is one of the founders of SkyNRG, the current worldwide market leader for Sustainable Aviation Fuel. Since 2016, all KLM flights from Los Angeles airport have been operated with SAF produced by the local World Energy (former AltAir Fuels) refinery and supplied by SkyNRG. Additionally, KLM has purchased SAF for flights out of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. This sustainable fuel produced by Neste from used cooking oil will bridge the gap until the opening of the SAF production plant.
In 2019, KLM made a decade-long commitment to developing and purchasing an annual 75,000 tons of Sustainable Aviation Fuel. KLM is the first airline in the world to invest in SAF on this scale. SkyNRG will develop Europe’s first dedicated plant for the production of SAF. The construction of this facility, which is scheduled to open in 2023, is a concrete step towards fulfilling KLM’s sustainability ambitions.
In November 2019, Air France and Shell signed a memorandum of undertaking confirming their commitment to fueling the airline’s flights on departure from San Francisco with a blend of conventional and sustainable fuel for aviation. Initially planned for June 1, this operation was postponed until the end of 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis.
- This alternative fuel, produced mostly from inedible waste fats and oils, has obtained RSB certification and respects strict sustainability criteria.
- Distribution will take place via the airport’s centralized infrastructure.
- This initiative will avoid the emission of around 6,000 tonnes of CO2 over 16 months and illustrate’s the airline’s proactive commitment to reducing its environmental footprint at every stage of the value chain.
INVOLVING CUSTOMERS AND PARTNERS
In 2012, KLM launched the KLM Corporate BioFuel Program, a first corporate programme for aviation related to sustainable aviation fuel. This resulted from the partnership with WWF-Netherlands and the Green Deal commitment at that time. In 2019, the KLM Corporate BioFuel Programme was partnered by ABN Amro, Accenture, Arcadis B.V., Arcadis N.V., Amsterdam Municipality, Loyens & Loeff, Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL), Microsoft, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, Neste, the Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR), PGGM, Schiphol Group, SHV Energy, Södra and the University of Delft.
Air France has long supported the development of a viable industry for the production of sustainable fuel for aviation. It has been trialing the use of such fuel on its commercial flights since 2014 and invests substantial sums in innovation alongside research institutes. In France, Air France mobilizes the partners in the biofuel value chain around the Engagement for Green Growth.