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European chiefs are “anti-aviation” with SAF demands says IATA


Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has accused European regulators of “being anti-aviation” by demanding airlines use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), an alternative to jet fuel.

While SAF generates fewer carbon emissions, it is between two to four times more expensive than its traditional aircraft fuel. “I think it’s fair to portray the EU as being anti-aviation, whereas other parts of the world are very positive, pro-aviation:” said Walsh, the former Chief Executive of British Airways (BA).

Every plane departing from an EU airport will have to partially run on green jet fuel from 2025, following a deal reached by the European Parliament and EU member states in April this year.

Walsh called for a global system that would allow airlines to buy SAF for others to use, even if they don’t fuel up their own planes with it. IATA said the EU’s approach could cause more fragmentation by forcing airlines to buy SAF in Europe, ultimately hampering a harmonised global approach.

Walsh added: “Just as location makes no difference on the impact of CO2 emissions, it has no impact on where SAF is uplifted and used either. A global approach to book and claim for SAF credits will help facilitate economies of scale in SAF production.

“Not only is threatening to make the EU’s emissions trading scheme extra-territorial, but several European states also want to tax jet fuel – in defiance of the Chicago Convention and almost every bilateral air service agreement.

“To promote SAF production, there are many tried and tested tools including tax credits, grants, or even direct investments in emerging technologies and solutions. The market is there. Airlines want to purchase SAF. Anything to meaningfully incentivize SAF production will be a step forward.”

According to theParliament and the Council of the EU, representing the bloc’s 27 member states, the regulation will reduce the carbon footprint of flying by replacing kerosene with cleaner alternatives.

Under the final agreement, the percentage of SAF that must be blended with kerosene will start at 2% by 2025, moving to 6% by 2030, 20% by 2035, 34% by 2040, and reaching 70% by 2050.

A dedicated sub-target for synthetic fuels derived from green hydrogen will also come into force from 2030. Starting at 1.2%, this will be scaled up to 5% by 2035, reaching 35% by 2050.

Parliament had originally pushed for an 85% share of SAF by 2050, while the Council stuck with the Commission’s proposal of 63%.

IATA argue that a global approach to increasing SAF production or tax incentives like those introduced by the United States under the Inflation Reduction Act would be more effective.

EU officials say they support the industry in its green transition through credits and other benefits and that the timelines for the mandates were reasonable.

In 2021, the EU’s executive European Commission released plans to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, including a progressive increase in sustainable aviation fuel use.

IATA will use a tool to track the amount of SAF airlines are purchasing and using in order to facilitate accountability across the sector. Officials said that, while figures on SAF use by individual airlines won’t be publicly available, the tracking tool will help show the progress of the whole sector.

As well as hitting back over SAF and its serious implications for the airline industry, IATA used its annual general meeting in Istanbul to berate European officials for failing to stop France’s air traffic control strikes that have caused considerable disruption.

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