18 May 2024

GreenAir News

Reporting on aviation and the environment

Boeing, WestJet and Air New Zealand ink North American SAF supply deals

North America has seen new sustainable aviation fuel agreements this month announced by Boeing and Canada’s WestJet, as well as Air New Zealand for supply in Los Angeles. Boeing has signed deals with multiple SAF suppliers to source 9.4 million gallons of blended product, its biggest single annual commitment. Of this, 4 million gallons are destined for its Pacific Northwest fuel farms and another 5.4 million gallons for distribution through book-and-claim programmes. In Canada, Calgary-based WestJet has bought the first SAF supplied in the country through Shell Aviation’s Avelia book-and-claim system. And in Los Angeles, Air New Zealand is taking delivery this year of 9 million litres (2.4 million gallons) of neat SAF produced in Singapore by renewable energy group Neste. Additionally, Boeing has just partnered with Australia’s Wagner Sustainable Fuels in developing a SAF blending facility in the state of Queensland.   

Boeing’s latest commitment, 60% greater than its SAF acquisitions in 2023, will be used in the company’s ecoDemonstrator programme, through which technologies and practices designed to increase aircraft efficiency and reduce their emissions are assessed using the company’s fleet of testbed aircraft. The blended supplies, all of which will include 30% SAF developed with waste fats, oils and greases, will also be used on Boeing’s commercial operational flights in the US.

The 4 million gallons of blended SAF destined for Boeing’s fuel farms will be produced by renewable energy group Neste and supplied by two US-based independent suppliers – 2.5 million gallons from EPIC Fuels, which operates major facilities in Oregon and Texas, and 1.5 million gallons from Avfuel, based in Michigan.

The additional 5.4 million gallons of blended SAF will also be provided in two batches, with 3.5 million gallons of Neste-made SAF to be supplied by EPIC Fuels, and 1.9 million gallons produced by World Fuel Services and supplied by World Energy. Through a book-and-claim process, Boeing will purchase the CO2 emissions reductions associated with these deals.

As well as driving up demand for SAF, book-and-claim systems authenticate the environmental attributes and ensure that these are allocated to buyers of the fuel as offset credits towards their net zero carbon emission targets.

 “About 20% of our fuel usage is a SAF blend,” said Ryan Faucett, Boeing’s VP Environmental Sustainability. “We continue to increase our use of this fuel to encourage growth in the SAF industry. We are also working to make SAF more available and affordable to our commercial airline customers through collaboration, investment, research and policy development.”

In Canada, WestJet said it had acquired the first SAF to be supplied in the country by Shell Aviation via its Avelia book-and-claim platform, though neither the volume nor timeframe of the fuel deal were disclosed in the airline’s announcement. Avelia uses blockchain technology to confirm transparent tracking of the environmental attributes of SAF, from production to delivery into aviation fuelling networks.

“WestJet is committed to enhancing our position as a first mover in sustainability technologies,” said Angela Avery, the airline group’s EVP and Chief People, Corporate and Sustainability Officer. “Just as we pioneered advancements in winglets and drag reduction, WestJet proudly stands as the first airline to acquire SAF by Shell in Canada. This first step sets the stage for future collaboration and innovation to encourage investments in this important lever for decarbonisation.”

The airline also added to the industry’s growing global pressure for support of SAF, saying it continued to work with government and industry partners to establish a sustainable, long-term commercial framework for the fuel which, “with the right regulatory and investment environment”, was one of aviation’s more viable and scalable decarbonisation pathways.

Christine Bassitt, Shell Aviation’s GM Americas, welcomed the WestJet deal, which not only supported decarbonisation of air transport, but simultaneously expanded the SAF supply chain in Canada to enable greater access to the fuel. 

Air New Zealand’s latest SAF deal was signed in Singapore during a New Zealand government-sponsored business delegation to South-East Asia, led by Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, a former CEO of the airline. The fuel will be produced by Neste at its recently expanded Singapore refinery, with the first supplies already being delivered to Los Angeles International Airport, from which the airline flies daily. The total order will be fulfilled by 30 November.

This is the biggest purchase of SAF from Neste by any airline based outside North America and Europe for delivery before the end of 2024, and nine times Air New Zealand’s first SAF acquisition from Neste in 2022. The airline’s total global SAF uptake between April and the end of November is expected to be 850 million litres (225 million gallons), as part of a broader decarbonisation programme that includes the introduction of electric aircraft.

Having committed last year to acquire up to 23 all-electric ALIA aircraft from Beta Technologies, the airline has now announced Wellington-Marlborough as the first route for all-cargo flights, to operate in partnership with NZ Post.  Serving as a commercial demonstrator for zero emission operations, the first aircraft will be based in Wellington, the national capital, at the base of New Zealand’s North Island, while Marlborough Airport in Blenheim, at the top of the South Island, will install charging infrastructure for the plane’s return journey across the Cook Strait.

Kiri Hannifin, Air New Zealand’s Chief Sustainability Officer, said the demonstrator aircraft would be used to gradually prepare the national aviation system for lower emission aircraft ahead of 2030, when the airline plans to phase out its fleet of 23 Q300 turboprops, or potentially convert them to new zero-emission propulsion systems.  

“Decarbonising aviation is of global importance, and in New Zealand maintaining regional connectivity through this transition is of national importance,” said Dean Heiford, CEO of Marlborough Airport. “This is a big step for us on our own sustainability journey that we wouldn’t have been able to achieve without partnership. We’re looking forward to sharing our learnings with other regional airports across New Zealand.”

In neighbouring Australia, Boeing has bolstered its latest commitment to SAF by partnering with Wagner Sustainable Fuels, which has commenced the design and construction of a SAF blending facility in the state of Queensland.

Ther new facility, which is due to open later this year, is located at Wagner’s Wellcamp Airport in the regional city of Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, which accommodates flights ranging from turboprop and narrowbody passenger jets to Boeing 747 freight services by Cathay Pacific, which regularly flies fresh produce from the region to Asia and beyond.

“Wagner’s sustainability goals align with Boeing’s work to advance aviation decarbonisation and energy security through renewable energy including SAF, advanced technologies, operational efficiency and fleet renewal,” said Kim Camrass, sustainability lead for Boeing in Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific.

“We’re proud to contribute to the building blocks of a sovereign SAF production industry with this Australian first facility,” said Matt Doyle, CEO of Wagner Sustainable Fuels, “and anticipate by the end of 2024 this facility will mark the start of the supply of SAF in Australia on a consistent basis.

“In collaboration with Boeing, the Wellcamp blending facility will demonstrate the greenhouse gas emissions reduction benefits of SAF for our customers, provide a focus for federal and state policy makers, and introduce the supply chain to this potential AUD3 billion ($2bn) per year industry.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email