A coalition of short-haul airlines, other aviation organisations and environmental groups are calling on the European Commission to ensure that long-haul flights are included in a forthcoming EU mandate on the use of sustainable aviation fuel.
The group – which includes Ryanair and EasyJet – has written to the Commission urging fuel suppliers to be made responsible for ensuring that SAF is included in jet kerosene supplies, ensuing equal treatment for long- and short-haul carriers.
It follows concern that policy proposals from the Commission could limit the EU’s ReFuel EU Aviation initiative to intra-European Economic Area flights, and oblige airlines to ensure a percentage of SAF is included in kerosene-based fuel.
In a letter sent to Commission vice-president Fran Timmermans and transport commissioner Adina Valean, the coalition cites recent Eurocontrol data showing that long-haul services account for just 6% of flights but half of the sector’s emissions.
“Increasing the supply of sustainable aviation fuel to cover just 10% of the needs of long-haul, would do more than can ever be done in short-haul to reduce net CO2 emissions,” the air traffic manager said last month.
The coalition argues that flights outside the EEA are already except from environmental policies such as the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS).
It also points out that there is an expectation that new zero-emissions technologies will be available for short-haul aviation in the foreseeable future. “These new, zero-emissions technologies, however, are not available for long-haul aviation in the foreseeable future; therefore SAFs continue to be key for long-haul aviation to mitigate its carbon emissions,” they write.
“The EU’s SAFs mandate will only have a sizeable impact on aviation’s emissions if we all do our part, including the long-haul operators who are the largest source of emissions, and who need this technology for the long run,” states EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren. “SAFs are only an interim step for short-haul carriers.”
Ryanair group chief Michael O’Leary concurs: “There is no logic in excluding long-haul flights from SAF usage obligations as this is their only possible way to decarbonise. We fully support the EU’s initiative to decarbonise aviation but all carriers, including long-haul, must play their part for this to be achieved.”
In addition, the coalition is urging the Commission to exclude biofuels from dedicated cropland, and ensure that mandates for best-in-class fuels, such as synthetic kerosene, are included.