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Heathrow Passengers to Power Flights with Sustainable Aviation Fuels

Passengers travelling through Heathrow can now help to offset their flight’s carbon emissions by purchasing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). SAFs have been proven to reduce carbon emissions from flying by as much as 70% compared to conventional jet fuel and will play a key role helping the aviation sector to decarbonise over the coming decade. Heathrow will be the first airport in the UK to offer passengers this opportunity. The announcement comes as the airport unveiled an augmented reality “Sustainability Showcase” in Terminal 5, designed to give passengers the chance to explore new technologies first-hand, stimulating discussion around investment in the technology that can help reduce carbon emissions.

The voluntary online offsetting platform is powered by climate-tech company CHOOOSE and SAF is provided by Sky NRG. The platform will enable passengers to calculate and offset their emissions, regardless of their airline or end destination. Travellers will select the percentage of emissions they’d like to offset with SAF, with any remaining emissions offset by certified global reforestation projects. Today, SAF is expensive, but by selecting even a small percentage of SAF in offsetting their flights, passengers can help show there’s demand for this essential climate solution.

With future advancements in aircraft technology like electric or hydrogen-powered flight still some way from commercial implementation, SAF is key to unlocking material reductions in carbon emissions from flying today. Currently, over 60% of Heathrow’s airline partners, by capacity, are committed to turning at least 10% of their fuel supply into SAF by 2030.

The main blockers for SAF usage currently are the high cost and limited production volumes. To tackle this, in addition to voluntary consumer demand, new policy is essential. The UK Government’s announcement last week, in which they declared its ambition to implement a mandate for at least 10% SAF usage by 2030, sends a positive signal to private investors that a growing market for SAF is on the horizon. To bring down costs and trigger investment in scaled-up production, the mandate needs to be complemented with a ‘price support’ policy.

This follows positive news from the global airline association IATA that all member airlines have committed to net zero by 2050. Heathrow will continue to support the UK Government in its efforts to secure a global agreement for net zero aviation at ICAO next year, ensuring aviation cuts its carbon emissions whilst protecting the benefits of flying for future generations.

To bring aviation’s net zero plans to life, Heathrow is also set to open its Augmented Reality ‘Sustainability Showcase’ ahead of COP26. The immersive experience gives passengers a behind the scenes look into the future of green flying and shows how the UK can become a leading force in the production and use of SAFs. Passengers can take a closer look at what the airport is doing to combat carbon, such as running all the airport’s infrastructure on 100% renewable electricity, with the option to purchase SAF on the spot with the new CHOOOSE platform.

Director of Carbon Strategy, Matt Gorman said: “We have a real sense of momentum behind reducing carbon emissions from flying – with airlines, airports, fuel companies, airlines, investors and Governments all coming together to tackle the problem. We’re delighted that from today Heathrow passengers will be able to offset their flights by purchasing SAF with our partner CHOOOSE – the more people who talk about and use SAF, the faster we’ll be able to scale-up production and cut carbon emissions from flying for good.”

Iuliia Tore