American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Lufthansa Group have each announced major new commitments to purchase sustainable aviation fuel, collectively exceeding 1.2 billion gallons. American, the world’s biggest airline group, has committed to buy 500 million gallons from biofuels producer Gevo over five years, commencing in 2026, and Alaska Airlines will source 185 million gallons of SAF from Gevo in a five-year commitment, also starting in 2026. American and Alaska are both members of the oneworld airline alliance, which last year agreed to a collective target of using 10% of combined fuel volumes by 2030, having been the first global alliance to announce a target of carbon neutrality by 2050 in September 2020. Lufthansa Group has announced a seven-year partnership with Shell to globally source 1.8 million metric tons (around 600 million gallons) between 2024 and 2030. The three deals represent the largest single commitments to SAF by each of the companies, reports Tony Harrington. Meanwhile, Lufthansa Group is now offering a new ‘Green Fare’ that already includes full CO2 compensation in the price.
The latest SAF agreement by American boosts its total low-carbon fuel commitments to over 620 million gallons. But it accounts for just 20% of what is needed to meet its 10% by 2030 goal, says the airline. “The use of SAF is a cornerstone of our strategy to decarbonise air travel,” said Jill Blickstein, American’s VP Sustainability. “While this landmark investment represents meaningful action by American Airlines, driving progress at the scale and pace we need requires critical policy action in Washington and at the State level.”
Announcing its new SAF deal, fellow oneworld member Alaska Airlines, which has set an ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2040, also amped up pressure for greater policy support to increase the availability of affordable supplies of sustainable fuels. “SAF is the most immediate path we have towards decarbonisation of aviation, but we recognise there is significant work required ahead – including public policy action – to make SAF a viable, affordable option at scale,” said Diana Birkett Rakow, Alaska’s SVP Public Affairs and Sustainability.
In Europe, Lufthansa Group, a member of the rival Star Alliance, has signed an MoU with Shell International Petroleum to investigate the supply of SAF at airports around the world. Comprising Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings and Lufthansa Cargo, Lufthansa Group is the largest collective user of SAF in Europe, it claims. The company said its deal with Shell would be “one of the most significant commercial SAF co-operations in the aviation industry” and the biggest SAF commitment of either company to date. The MoU is also expected to progress Shell’s ambition to ensure SAF comprised 10% of its aviation fuel sales by 2030.
“The Lufthansa Group has been involved in SAF research for many years, has built up an extensive network of partnerships and is driving forward the introduction of sustainable next-generation aviation fuels in particular,” the company added. “Special focus is placed on the forward-looking power-to-liquid and sun-to-liquid technologies, which use renewable energies or thermal energy as energy carriers.”
By using SAF, customers can already fly carbon-neutral today, said the Group. Additionally, they can document their reduced CO2 emissions with audited certificates and have the CO2 savings credited to their individual CO2 balance.
Coinciding with its SAF offtake announcement, the Group announced that four of its members – Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines – had introduced a new range of ‘Green Fares’ that include “full CO2 compensation” in the price. The fares will be available for Economy and Business Class flights within Europe, initially for passengers travelling from Denmark, Sweden and Norway, and displayed alongside other fares types in online booking screens immediately after flight selection. The new fares also include the option of free rebooking, as well as extra status and award miles. From autumn, they will also be available through travel agencies in Scandinavia.
“The Lufthansa Group is the first international aviation group to offer its customers a separate ‘green fare’ for CO2-neutral flying with SAF,” it stated. Through the pilot project, 80% of carbon offsetting will be achieved through high-quality climate protection projects and 20% through the use of SAF, the company added.
“We want to make CO2-neutral flying a matter of course in the future,” commented Christina Foerster, a member of Lufthansa Group’s Executive Board, responsible for brand and sustainability. “People don’t just want to fly and discover the world. They also want to protect it. We are driven by the need to support our customers with the right offers.”