IAG Purchases 26 Million Gallons Of SAF To Power Flights Out Of San Francisco

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) news used to be few and far between only a couple of years back. Now, they have become part and parcel of the aviation news cycle as the industry strives to meet decarbonization targets. The International Airlines Group, or IAG , owner of British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, Level, and Vueling, has vowed to power 10% of its flights with SAF by 2030. As part of that aim, IAG has signed a multi-year agreement with Aemetis for sustainable fuel out of San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

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IAG will purchase a total of 78,400 tonnes (26 million gallons) of neat, unblended SAF over a period of seven years beginning in 2025 to power British Airways and Aer Lingus flights out of SFO.

This is enough to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 248,000 tons. For comparison, an analysis from 2018 by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) found that when operating with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, a British Airways flight from San Jose in California to London Heathrow (LHR) emits an estimated 1,334 kg of CO2 per passenger.

Jonathon Counsell, Head of Sustainability at IAG, said,

“SAF is key to decarbonizing aviation and IAG has to date committed $865 million in SAF purchases and investments. We see great potential to develop a long-term partnership with Aemetis who is at the cutting edge of producing low carbon biofuels from sustainable wastes.”

The SAF will power BA and Aer Lingus flights out of SFO from 2025. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

SAF produced with carbon sequestration

The fuel will be produced at Aemetis’ Carbon Zero plant currently under development in Riverbank, California. When completed, it will be powered by renewable electricity. It is also designed to sequester carbon from the production process itself through carbon capture technology, and as such , it reduces the lifecycle emissions of the fuel further.

Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis, stated,

“Sustainable aviation fuel continues to be shown to be a great solution to decarbonize aviation and can be used in existing aircraft engines. IAG is continuing to take a leadership position by the conversion of their fuel supply to the use of sustainable fuels. SAF in California is supported by the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard, creating new investment and jobs in disadvantaged minority communities in the state.”

Then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger introduced the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard in 2007. He signed an executive order calling for a reduction of at least 10% of California’s transportation fuel carbon intensity by 2020, and uses a combination of regulations, incentives, and emissions trading .

IAG has committed to 10% SAF for its flights from 2030. Photo: Thomas Boon | Simple Flying

IAG and SAF

Other deals that IAG has made for SAF include six million gallons of SAF per year for Aer Lingus from Gevo, over two million gallons of UK-produced SAF for cargo operations, and the equivalent of SAF to reduce lifecycle CO2 emissions by almost 100,000 tons from the same North Lincolnshire Philips 66 refinery. Overall, IAG is investing $400 million over the next 20 years into the development of SAF.

Source: ICCT

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