To cut carbon emissions, the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines (AAPA) has set a target for its members to use 5% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030, signaling demand to fuel manufacturers. The decision was announced during the 67th session of presidents of the association, emphasizing problems such as limited SAF availability and expense.
"The industry emphasizes that our position is agnostic to feedstock and pathway." We have fossil fuels that can only be accessed in particular parts of the world, whereas trash, agricultural, and forestry residues are available worldwide as feedstock for sustainable aviation fuel. "We need oil companies to provide the transition, and governments to provide the necessary framework in the form of subsidies and incentives," said AAPA director general Subhas Menon.
The 5% SAF utilization aim is a group goal for AAPA's 14 member airlines, including newly admitted Air India. In May, India's Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas announced plans to require domestic carriers to use 1% SAF by 2025. Previously, the civil aviation ministry indicated its intention to boost the blend of sustainable aviation fuel to 2% by 2026 and 5% by 2030. A mandate for airlines, on the other hand, may not operate well unless supply is assured, according to Menon.
"The European Union (EU) has mandates." What good are mandates if there is no supply of SAF? Mandates do not make sense at this time, so we must concentrate on the supply side. Everyone claims it's a chicken and egg problem, but I disagree. Airlines are consuming all available gasoline at the moment, which is unfortunately insufficient," Menon noted. Furthermore, member airlines emphasized the need for a policy framework that will lower the price difference between jet fuel and green fuel.
"A level playing field is critical for all of us." Cathay Pacific is one of the first Asian airlines to promise to use 10% SAF by 2030. "We want to do the right thing, but we don't want to be penalized because that is so much more expensive than fossil jet fuel," said Grace Cheung, Cathay Pacific's general manager of sustainability.
SAF demonstration flights have occurred in India, with SpiceJet completing one in 2018 using 75% aviation turbine fuel blended with 25% bio jet fuel. In September of last year, Tata Group Airlines inked a memorandum of understanding with CSIR-IIP to collaborate on research, development, and deployment of sustainable aviation fuels. AirAsia India, now part of Air India Express, launched the country's first domestic commercial passenger flight in May 2023, with SAF mixing up to 1%.
Aviation accounts for about 3% of total global carbon emissions. The International Civil Aviation Organisation established a carbon-neutral growth target for 2019 and a net-zero emissions goal for 2050 in 2016.
According to the International Air Transport Association, SAF output will reach around 300 million ltr in 2022, however, it presently accounts for barely 0.1% of overall aviation fuel use.