Ten years on from the first biofuel flight, are alternative fuels the future? Although the growth from 1 flight in 2008 to more than 100,000 flights in 2018 has been impressive, overall, the contribution of SAF to aviation fuel use is still tiny. Just 0.05% of the industry's annual $140 billion fuel bill is spent on SAF. A massive uplift in production and use is necessary if the industry is to hit its ambitious goal of a 50% cut in net CO2 emissions by 2050, compared to 2005. Today, given the rising cost of bio-stock a 100% SAF flight may be unrealistic. The right percentage currently is probably closer to 15%.
What is needed in order to move forward is for the whole air transport 'eco-system', including governments, to play their part. Government support, of course, is crucial to the increased use of SAF. Current subsidy support for SAF is close to zero. But there are exceptions where the 'eco-system' is coming together – for example at Geneva airport, where a new biofuel supply will go online later this year.
Airports also have a key role, not only technically, but perhaps socially as well. One possibility could be to offer more eco-conscious passengers dedicated queues. Certainly, businesses are finding that a new generation of consumers is much more demanding, especially over the transparency of company sustainability plans.