European travel organisation Sunweb Group has entered into a partnership with Neste that will include the purchase of 306 tonnes (385,000 litres) of Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel, which will provide an emissions reduction equalling the amount of GHG emissions from all Sunweb flights departing in 2022. Sunweb does not own aircraft itself but uses commercial airlines for air travel to its holiday destinations and claims it is the first such travel operator to purchase SAF directly to reduce its climate impact. This follows a decision by Sunweb earlier this year to stop investing in carbon offsetting and instead focus on SAF as a means of compensating for its customers travel carbon emissions, with an aim to increase SAF use year upon year. Meanwhile, Denmark-based Goodwings, a hotel booking platform to help businesses reduce their travel emissions, has announced its intention to offer SAF as an option to its clients. It is working with travel and transport carbon emissions calculation and compensation organisation SQUAKE, which in turn is sourcing SAF through a partnership with Lufthansa Group’s Compensaid digital platform for carbon-neutral flying.
Commenting on Sunweb’s new partnership with Neste, Chris Oskam, Head of Sustainability, said: “While this initial SAF purchase is currently a small amount, it is an important step towards making flying more sustainable. With the new investment, we will ensure all one million Sunweb Group customers will be flying with reduced emissions thanks to the purchased volume that equals 0.5% of all jet fuel used on our flights in 2022. In doing so, we want to show that sustainability is everyone’s responsibility.”
Sunweb Group has digital holiday brands across markets in the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany and the UK, with around 500 employees. It says modern travellers require a focus on sustainability and the company has decided to stop investing through offsets in compensating customers’ estimated CO2 emissions from their journey, transfer and accommodation.
“We are continuously working with our partners on initiatives that contribute to a sustainable future,” said CEO Mattijs ten Brink. “Compensating CO2 may not be as effective as we had hoped, so we have chosen to invest in other ways that have a positive impact – straight away as well as in the long term. We are looking to decrease our ecological footprint in the sky, and we support local initiatives that directly affect communities at our destinations.”
Responded Jason Reichow, VP Business Development, Renewable Aviation at Neste: “As one of the largest travel organisations in Europe, Sunweb Group is taking on the responsibility to make their offering more sustainable by buying SAF and enabling lower-emission flights for their clientele. This is a first of its kind collaboration and the world needs these kinds of pioneers to lead the way to a more sustainable future.”
Neste says its SAF is produced from 100% sustainably-sourced, renewable waste and residue raw materials, such as used cooking oil and animal fat waste, and unblended can reduce lifecycle GHG emissions by up to 80% compared to using fossil jet fuel. The company expects to have an annual SAF production capacity of 1.5 million tonnes (1.875 billion litres) by the end of 2023.
Under Goodwings’ subscription-based hotel booking platform, the company will use revenues to purchase SAF on behalf of its clients and remove any remaining emissions with nature-based CO2 removal offsets supporting the La Pitanga VCS-certified forestry project in Uruguay.
“Increased ESG legislation has raised the bar for many companies, which was in part what led us to pursue a solution that went one step further than offsetting, while still keeping it affordable,” explained Chief Commercial Officer Julie Toft on the company’s decision to finance the use of SAF.
“When businesses choose a Premium subscription, the cost of biofuel and verified carbon removal offsets is included in the total costs, so there is no additional fee to pay. The split of how much biofuel/offsets we purchase depends on three factors: flight distance, length of stay and rate of booking revenues. So, for example, if you fly from New York to Boston, your round-trip emissions will total around 150kg. For that trip, a 3-night hotel stay booked on our site will generate about $60 in hotel booking revenues, which means that we can afford to reduce the client’s round-trip emissions by 50% using biofuel and pay for the remainder through verified removal offsets. And the longer you stay in the hotel, the more commission goes towards the purchase of biofuels.”
The SAF is purchased through Berlin-based SQUAKE, which says the SAF has been certified according to EU-ISCC and RED, and is produced from used cooking oil and not from palm oil or acid distillates. Compensaid was developed by Lufthansa Group’s innovation hub, which spun off SQUAKE in 2021 as a CO2 compensation platform that allows travel and transport companies to integrate their offset schemes in the booking path via its APIs. The platform is free for sustainability businesses to sign up and SQUAKE charges a fee on every transaction made by the customers of the travel businesses using it.
“Adding green jet fuel to our offering was the natural next step for us, as it takes us one step closer to decarbonising travel,” said Christian Møller-Holst, CEO and Founder of Goodwings. “As a business dedicated to taking positive climate action, we continue to seek out the best climate solutions for our customers so that together we can achieve the greatest impact.”
Goodwings advisor Katherine Richardson, professor of biological oceanography and head of the University of Copenhagen’s Sustainability Science Center, added: “For the near future, it seems wise to prioritise the human use of the Earth’s limited bioresources for activities where no alternative energy to fossil fuels are yet developed. Air travel is an obvious candidate here and I applaud the new step in Goodwings’ strategy.”
Photo: Sunweb Group