Delta, Korean Air team up with refiners for sustainable jet fuel trials

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Major carriers Korean Air and Delta are the latest airlines seeking to source more sustainable jet fuel, teaming up with refiners for limited quantities.

Chevron announced it will produce a test batch of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at its El Segundo Refinery, which it will sell to Delta. The airline will use the fuel at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Chevron and Delta announced in a joint statement with Google on September 7, 2021.  

“As aviation continues to define a more sustainable future, understanding the environmental impacts of our operations will be paramount as we look to mitigate climate change,” said Amelia DeLuca, Delta’s managing director of sustainability.

Delta said it has pledged to replace 10% of its jet fuel with SAF by 2030. SAF is produced from bio feedstocks that can reduce lifecycle carbon intensity significantly when compared to conventional jet fuel, Chevron said in the statement.

Separately, Korean Air said on September 6, 2021, that it has partnered with Korean petroleum and refinery company SK Energy on carbon-neutral jet fuel.

The South Korean carrier said it will purchase a month’s worth of carbon-neutral jet fuel, which it will use for domestic flights from Jeju (CJU) and Cheongju (CJJ). It noted that it became the first Korean airline to use SAF in 2017, when it trialed the fuel on a flight departing from Chicago to Incheon. 

Airlines are increasingly turning to SAF as a way to reduce carbon emissions ahead of new, cleaner propulsion technology. However, the cost, at around four times that of jet fuel, is an issue, while quantities remain limited, airline executives have said. 

British Airways announced on September 7, 2021, that it has purchased SAF to fuel flights between London, Glasgow, and Edinburgh during the UK’s COP26 climate change summit being held in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12, 2021. 


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