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Sustainable aviation fuel for planes to and from Davos… finally

The Business Aviation Coalition for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF Coalition), the World Economic Forum (WEF), and Zurich Airport have announced initiatives to reduce aviation emissions.

First, the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) will lower emissions for flights to and from Davos this year, and secondly, it will help support the aviation industry’s effort to expand the use of SAF.

Jet Aviation and World Fuel Services is making SAF available for aircraft leaving Switzerland as delegates depart Davos, Switzerland.

Further, as the SAF Coalition explains:

Under a payment-transfer initiative known as ‘book-and-claim,’ operators for the first time will be able to purchase SAF even at airports where it’s not available. Under the program, for each gallon of conventional fuel purchased at Teterboro Airport outside New York City, Hanscom Field in the Boston area and Dulles International Airport, Washington, D.C.’s main international terminal, an equivalent amount of conventional fuel will be replaced with SAF on flights departing from Van Nuys airport in the Los Angeles area.

Sustainable aviation fuels are carbon-cutting turbine fuels, made from bio-based or other sources, which can reduce a flight’s emissions by as much as 80%. It’s currently available in limited quantities but is produced from renewable sources. It works exactly the same as conventional fuel.

However, SAF manufacturers have some kinks to iron out, as Market Watch writes:

Aviation biofuels exist, i.e., fuel made from plants or waste biomass that has a much lower carbon footprint, and is generally blended in with regular jet fuel. The big obstacle is making enough without competing with food production, at a low enough price.

At the moment, sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), as the industry calls them, are about three times more expensive than commercial fossil-fuel derived jet fuel.

The SAF Coalition is made up of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).

The SAF Coalition will host the Business Aviation Global Sustainability Summit in Washington, D.C., in March 2020 to accelerate the availability and use of SAF.

Electrek’s Take

A common annual criticism of the annual World Economic Forum at Davos meeting is that everyone talks about sustainability but arrives in polluting private jets, and that contributes to the perception of the event as being elitist and hypocritical. As Electrek asserted yesterday:

What’s really important is what real and concrete actions come out of Davos when it comes to the reduction of the use of fossil fuels and greenhouse gases.

So, while SAF needs some serious fine-tuning, the effort to reduce aircraft emissions is welcome. When it comes to private jets (thousands show up at Davos), their overall emissions are lower than commercial flights, but the carbon footprint for individual passengers on private jets is much higher, as there are fewer passengers.

Photo: JetApp

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.