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Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Emirates begins operating with SAF at London Heathrow

Emirates begins operating with SAF at London Heathrow
The first sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) uplift for Emirates Airline in the UK under the London Heathrow Airport (LHR) SAF Incentive Scheme (photo courtesy Emirates).

UAE-headed air carrier Emirates Airline has announced that it has taken delivery of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from Shell Aviation at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) in the UK. This is the first time the airline will use SAF to power some of its flights at LHR and represents the largest volume of SAF it has purchased to date.

Emirates is participating in London Heathrow’s SAF Incentive Programme, which ensures its affordability and accessibility for airlines operating at the airport.

Emirates is eager to take this next step in our SAF journey with Shell Aviation and London Heathrow supporting us with this fuel supply arrangement in one of our biggest operations outside of Dubai. The LHR Incentive Programme will support the SAF market’s increasing momentum, allowing airlines like Emirates to take advantage of its availability and make it more commercially viable, said Adel Al Redha, Deputy President and Chief Operations Officer of Emirates Airline.

Over 3,000 tonnes of neat SAF, blended with conventional jet fuel, will be supplied into the fuelling infrastructure network of the airport until the end of summer 2024.

The SAF that Emirates has purchased from Shell Aviation will be safely dropped into existing airport fuelling infrastructure and aircraft jet engines.

The airline will be accounting for, tracking, and tracing the delivery of SAF at LHR as well as its sustainability attributes through robust reporting methodologies.

Mass balance is a chain-of-custody model that requires documentation of the amount of SAF at each stage of the aviation fuel distribution network.

While physical co-mingling of SAF with conventional jet fuel is permissible under a mass balance system, from an accounting perspective, the virtual share of SAF in the distribution network must be quantified at all points from the SAF’s introduction to the network until the point of loading into an aircraft.

In its neat form, SAF can reduce lifecycle carbon emissions by up to 80 percent compared to using conventional jet fuel, calculated with established life cycle assessment (LCA) methodologies, such as the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) methodology.

After our successful collaboration with Emirates to supply SAF to Dubai (DXB) last year, we are pleased to continue our support for their sustainability journey by enabling the airline to decarbonize flights out of the UK. This development also marks further progress in the growth of our global SAF supply network. Our goal is to continue to work with forward-thinking players in the aviation industry, like Emirates and London Heathrow, to make SAF available in more locations around the world, said Raman Ojha, President of Shell Aviation.

A first-of-its-kind scheme

Launched in 2022, London Heathrow’s SAF Incentive is the first of its kind scheme that provides a support mechanism to reduce the premium price gap between conventional jet fuel and SAF by approximately 50 percent.

Schemes such as the one at London Heathrow aim to accelerate supportive government policies, increasing the UK’s competitiveness by unlocking investment in clean energy investments like SAF production.

We are thrilled to support Emirates with Heathrow’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) scheme. SAF is crucial to decarbonizing long-haul flights as it can cut carbon on routes like London to Dubai without the need for new aircraft or infrastructure. Thanks to commitments from airlines like Emirates, we expect to support the use of up to 155,000 tonnes of SAF at Heathrow this year. Now we need to ramp up SAF production in the UK so the country can benefit from jobs, growth, and energy security as more airlines make the switch to cleaner fuels, said Ross Baker, Chief Commercial Officer, Heathrow.

Exploring SAF opportunities

Emirates’ SAF strategy focuses on exploring opportunities to use SAF operationally wherever it is available in the airline’s network, share emissions costs with corporate customers or freight forwarders where feasible, cooperate on longer-term SAF projects with reputable partners, and support SAF ventures in the UAE with the potential to supply SAF at its hub.

London Heathrow’s SAF initiative also demonstrates credible action to encourage the scale-up and use of SAF by airlines, building local production capabilities grounded in real demand, in addition to developing capacities across the supply chain to blend, handle, and distribute SAF more widely. We hope that the initiative receives collective support of government authorities to boost more investment in SAF production in the future. While Emirates explores opportunities to increase the use of SAF within our network, we’ll continue to take other steps to reduce our emissions, with a major focus on optimizing flight operations including weight reduction of aircraft and charting more efficient flight routes, among other initiatives, Adel Al Redha said.

Emirates currently operates flights from Amsterdam Schipol Airport (AMS), the Netherlands, Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG), Lyon-Saint Exupéry (LYS), France, and Oslo Gardemoen Airport (OSL), Norway with SAF.

Last year, the airline collaborated with Shell Aviation to supply SAF to Dubai International Airport (DXB) fuelling systems for the first time, allocating the SAF to several flights.

The airline plans to work with local partners at Singapore Changi Airport (SIN), Singapore for SAF through the airport’s fuelling systems.

Earlier this year, Emirates became the first international carrier to join The Solent Cluster in the UK, an initiative focused on low-carbon investments with the potential to create an SAF plant that can produce up to 200,000 tonnes per year if operational by 2032.

The Solent Cluster is a cross-sector collaboration of international organizations, including manufacturers and engineering companies, regional businesses and industries, leading logistics and infrastructure operators, and academic institutions.

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