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RSB researches SAF in top airports’ sustainability strategies

The drive to develop viable, fully commercialised sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is gaining momentum. By the beginning of 2020, over 250,000 flights had taken off using SAF blends and over 6 billion litres of offtakes had been achieved. Currently, SAF only accounts for 0,01% of global jet fuel use, but with the right support, it is expected to reach up to 2% by 2025.

In this regard, airports have a critical role to encourage the use of SAF. However, only a few airports currently have a consistent supply of SAF, and there is still some uncertainty on the role airports should and aspire to play within the SAF value chain. This is why the Sustainable Airports Platform – an RSB initiative linked to the ALIGHT programme – was developed, as it offers stakeholders the opportunity to collaborate in developing and exchanging knowledge on sustainability and the role of airports in the SAF economy.

Last month, as part of the 2nd meeting of the Sustainable Airports Platform, the goal was to identify to what extent SAF is part of airports’ sustainability strategies. To our knowledge, this is research that had yet to be conducted, and although not extensive, it would prove to be undoubtedly insightful and beneficial to stakeholders in developing the SAF economy. And so, as part of the Sustainable Airports Platform, an initial study was done to uncover this.

To ensure global representation,  RSB selected the busiest airports in each region – North America, Asia, Europe, Australasia, South America and Africa – as well as airports in the Sustainable Airports Platform. Then, using data published by Airports Council International, the research showed that although SAF was mostly on the radar of the top airports worldwide, many have yet to integrate it into their sustainability strategies – effectively or at all.

Of the 32 airports researched, only 12 mentioned SAF in their sustainability strategies. Furthermore, many of the commitments are varied and vague. While this demonstrates that SAF still has some way to go to be integrated into airports’ sustainability strategies, this also emphasises the need to further research and expand on the role that airports can take in developing SAF economies – which is why we are proud of the work that we are doing as part of the Sustainable Airports Platform.

The final report will be published soon, as part of a SAF sustainability toolkit for airports that RSB is preparing for members of of the Sustainable Airports Platform, as part of the ALIGHT programme.

To learn more about the Sustainable Airports Platform, click here.

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