It’s rare that airlines and environmental groups agree on something. But now, four airlines have teamed up with non-governmental organizations to support a European Union drive to boost sustainable aviation fuels.  

The European Commission has put forward a proposal called ReFuelEU Aviation, which aims to increase the share of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) used in the bloc to at least 2% in 2025, 5% in 2030, before reaching 63% in 2050.  

Despite a flurry of PR announcements from airlines over recent months, SAF currently accounts for a tiny proportion of the fuel actually used in aviation. The fuel is currently more expensive than regular kerosene and is available only in limited quantities.  

The Fuelling Flight Initiative, announced on February 1, 2022, brings together AIREG, AirFrance-KLM, Bauhaus Luftfahrt, Deutsche Post DHL Group, easyJet, the European Cockpit Association, Natuur & Milieu, Ryanair, SkyNRG and Transport & Environment. They noted that aviation’s take-up of renewable energy has been much slower than in other industries.  

Importantly, the Commission’s SAF targets cover advanced biofuels, thereby excluding traditional types of biofuel that risk competing with food production. The airlines and NGOs welcomed this decision.  

"Europe urgently needs to provide investment security for the most sustainable aviation fuels, while avoiding the risk of lock-in to those fuels that have no place in our zero-emissions future,” said Pete Harrison, executive director for EU policy at the European Climate Foundation. “By joining forces, our diverse group has been able to craft future-proof guidance.” 

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AeroTime columnist Francesca Hinton speaks to Neville Hargreaves, Velocys VP for Waste to Fuels, about the role of SAF role aviation’s decarbonization.