Air Canada is celebrating Earth Day with the announcement it is purchasing 9.5 million liters of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). The Canadian flag carrier will continue this initiative in its Climate Action Plan by strengthening its partnership with its long-term SAF producer, Neste. The deal will provide SAF to Air Canada flights departing from San Francisco International Airport.
The 9.5 million liters of Neste’s MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel SAF will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 23,500 tonnes of CO2e. The 23,500 tonnes of CO2e are equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions that can be absorbed by 28,000 acres of forest, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency equivalencies calculator and calculated based on a full lifecycle assessment.
A continuing partnership with Neste
The Star Alliance has been purchasing Neste’s SAF since February 2022 and has long been a proponent of sustainable aviation fuel. Air Canada‘s ambitious Climate Action Plan includes a commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, and SAF is widely viewed as an interim solution to zero-emissions flights.
Using sustainable aviation fuel provides an alternative to conventional, fossil-based jet fuel by turning waste and residue raw materials into a mix that can be blended with jet fuel. The resulting SAF directly reduces greenhouse at the source, often by a significant percent.
It is estimated that Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel could reduce GHG emissions by up to 80%* over the fuel’s life cycle when compared to conventional jet fuel. Michael Sargeant, Vice President of Americas at the Renewable Aviation business unit of Neste, expressed his excitement for the announcement:
“Decarbonising aviation is more important than ever and Neste is committed to helping the aviation industry move towards a more sustainable future. We are proud to support Air Canada in working towards their ambitious goal of net-zero emissions from all its global operations by 2050 by supplying Neste’s SAF which helps enable airlines to reduce their emissions.
“We look forward to continuing to work together as we increase our annual SAF production capability to 1.5 million tons per annum by the end of 2023.”
Photo: Air Canada
Air Canada also allows corporate customers and cargo freight forwarders to purchase SAF, carbon offsets, or a combination of both to offset or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The program enables customers to mitigate their carbon footprint concerning business travel or cargo shipments.
Sourcing supplies for the future
The present supply of SAF worldwide continues to be significantly more expensive and harder to obtain than traditional jet fuel, with SAF costing up to eight times as much. Air Canada, in 2021, was one of the launch partners of the Aviation Climate Taskforce, a non-profit organization to support the development of emerging technologies aimed at decarbonizing aviation.
Air Canada is also a founding member of the Canadian Council for Sustainable Aviation Fuels, which launched in 2022 to bring together key industry stakeholders and the Government of Canada to advance the availability and generate a meaningful supply of Canada-produced SAF for commercial aviation. The project is designed to support Canada’s position on climate change, the country’s environmental goals, and the more significant Canadian aviation industry. Michael Rousseau, the President and CEO of Air Canada, noted how the announcement was an important step toward its goals:
“At Air Canada, we have adopted a multifaceted approach to addressing climate change and sustainability. Environmental and social factors are incorporated into our strategic decisions, as are our fleet purchases and daily operations through our support of low-carbon alternatives. SAF comprises one of our core pillars in pursuing our net-zero emission targets.
Today’s announced purchase represents a five-fold increase in our SAF procurement year over year and is an important step towards our target of one per cent fuel to be SAF by 2025, supporting our journey towards our 2050 net zero decarbonization goals.”
Photo: Air Canada
The use of San Francisco International Airport as a base for fuel deliveries is unsurprising. The airport was a frontrunner in the SAF rollout and has already delivered millions of gallons of SAF to a host of carriers.