Global Airlines Urge Oil Producers to Increase Production of Low-Emission Fuel

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The leader of the largest international coalition of airlines has called on oil producers to increase the production of low-emission aviation fuel, stressing that the sustainability of commercial air travel depends on the industryโ€™s effective decarbonisation efforts.

During an aviation summit in Singapore this week, Director General of the International Air Transport Association, Willie Walsh, highlighted sustainable aviation fuel as the most powerful tool available for curbing emissions, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

According to him, despite its superior environmental performance, demand for this cleaner-burning alternative far exceeds its current supply, despite its higher cost ranging from three to five times that of traditional jet fuel.

Every bit of fuel produced would be used because this is an existential issue. This industry will only be allowed to grow if we can prove to our customers, regulators, governments, and people in general that we can develop sustainably.

Willie Walsh

As the Luxemburg Times reports, after the challenges of the pandemic, airlines now face their most hard obstacle: achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Despite contributing a relatively small share to global emissions, the aviation sector faces major obstacles in its journey towards decarbonisation.

At the same time, failure to keep pace with other industries could significantly expand its share of emissions in the coming decades.

Around $5 trillion in capital investment may be required to facilitate this transition, with a significant portion earmarked for the development of sustainable fuel refineries. However, Willie Walsh cautioned against using hydrogen as a potential propellant alternative in the short term, stressing the imperative to increase sustainable aviation fuel production.

The sustainable fuel, derived from waste oils and agricultural raw materials, promises to reduce carbon emissions by up to 80 per cent. However, its higher cost has sparked debate about the distribution of costs. Walsh claims passengers cannot avoid this extra financial load as Singapore prepares to introduce a fuel levy that could translate into higher ticket prices.

Singapore recently announced plans to implement a tax on airfares to fund sustainable aviation fuel. Thus, starting in 2026, all flights departing from Singapore will be mandated to carry a minimum of one per cent sustainable aviation fuel in their tanks, with this requirement expected to escalate to between three per cent and five per cent by 2030, as the government explains.

The introduction of the tax is specifically intended to support and finance this initiative. Walsh also pointed out that many aircraft are expected to be grounded through 2024 and into 2025.

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