Boeing aircraft taking off

Commercial biofuel is aviation game-changer says IATA

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is urging stakeholders in the aviation and air transport fuel supply chains to collaborate on moving biofuels beyond the trial stage to commercialisation.

“Air transport needs fuel that is safe, used in an environmentally responsible manner, with a reliable supply and at reasonable cost,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO in an address to the IATA Fuel Forum, taking place in Paris, France. He called on the industry to cooperate on three critical areas for innovation: safety, environment and commercial issues.

On the environment he said: “Fuel is closely linked to one of aviation’s great challenges - to reduce its carbon emissions. Sustainability is our licence to grow and provide the connectivity that has turned our planet into a global community.”

Tyler pointed out that the industry has made commitments to improve fuel efficiency by 1.5 per cent annually to 2020, cap net emissions from 2020 and cut net emissions in half by 2050 compared to 2005 levels, and stressed the importance of introducing sustainable biofuels to these efforts.

“Sustainable biofuels are safe, approved and airlines are using them for commercial flights. With the potential to cut aviation’s carbon footprint by up to 80 per cent over the lifecycle of the fuel, sustainable biofuels have the potential to be a game-changer. But they are still expensive and supply is limited. In other words, we need to commercialise them,” said Tyler.

“There is an opportunity for both our traditional suppliers and new entrants to engage in this exciting development.”

Governments can promote the successful commercialisation of aviation biofuels through their policies, Tyler said, and set out six steps they should be encouraged to take: (1) foster research into new feedstock sources and refining processes, (2) de-risk public and private investments in aviation biofuels, (3) provide incentives for airlines to use biofuels from an early stage, (4) encourage stakeholders to commit to robust international sustainability criteria, (5) make the most of local green growth opportunities, and (6) encourage coalitions encompassing all parts of the supply chain.

“Such policies would help increase volumes and drive down costs—exactly what is needed to move forward. And at this time of global uncertainty, it makes sense for governments to invest in sustainable biofuels that will increase energy self-sufficiency and create jobs in the green economy,” said Tyler.

IATA represents some 230 airlines responsible for over 90 per cent of scheduled international air traffic.

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