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Our flying future is looking greener

  • Publish Date: Posted over 4 years ago
  • Author:by Katie Pereira

​The International Air Transport Association (IATA), its member airlines and the wider aviation industry are committed to reducing emissions caused by the airline industry.

In order to achieve this, the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), has been identified as one of the ways of reaching their goals. SAF are the only low-carbon fuels available to aviation currently so would appear to be the best route forward.

Support from Governments to incentivise more production will be essential if the airline industry has any chance of making a demonstrable impact on their climate goals but hopefully things are moving in the right direction. With only one SAF flight in 2008, Virgin Atlantic (B747) were unsurprisingly the early adopters, becoming the first commercial airline to fly on a blend of jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuel on 24th February 2008. Nearly ten years on, in 2017 there were 100,000 flights, and then 1 million flights in 2020. The aviation industry is pushing hard to use sustainable fuels to cut emissions, with their aim of seeing a billion passengers fly on a SAF-blended flight by 2025.

What are Sustainable Airline Fuels?

They are developed from sustainable oil crops such as jatropha, camelina and algae or from wood and waste biomass. Remarkably, they can reduce the overall carbon footprint by around 80% (over their full lifecycle) as they only use sources that conserve than ecological balance and avoid the depletion of natural resources.

Are they as good as traditional jet fuels? Test flights using these sustainable alternatives have been undertaken by more than twenty airlines and have demonstrated technical compliance with conventional jet fuel – however, currently they are more costly to produce (which is potentially one of the biggest barriers to overcome).

In order to realise their goals, the IATA propose that they will engage with industry and policy stakeholders and facilitate cooperation and partnership working. Alongside this, they will provide support at national, regional and international level to create the frameworks for the future and promote awareness of the efforts being made by the sector to reduce carbon emissions.

It’s great to see the airline industry coming together to tackle this important issue and to work toward their carbon reduction target of a cut of 50% in CO2 by 2050 (compared to 2005). We have seen an increase in Sustainability roles within the airline industry over the past 12 months, which further demonstrates the commitment of the sector to tackle the climate crisis head on.

To find out more about the Sustainability roles we are currently hiring for, or to get some help with a hard to fill or technical role you are struggling to fill, please contact Allen & York on +44(0)1202 888986 or