Holland-Kaye says the rich should pay more for using SAF, to subsidise tickets for poorer countries

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos (which is attended by a lot of high carbon emission companies) the CEO of Heathrow, John Holland-Kaye, has said that in order for the industry to meet targets for the use of so called “sustainable aviation fuel” (SAF) someone is going to have to pay more for air tickets, in order to pay for it. He said rich travelers will have to pay more to fly if the aviation industry is to transition to SAF, as they are hugely more expensive than conventional kerosene. If the rich, including most in rich countries, and businesses pay more, then tickets could cost less for people in poor countries. Of course, the best way to cut aviation CO2 is for people to fly less, but that idea is anathema to Holland-Kaye and his industry.  SAF is expensive to develop, and the industry already has a lot of government subsidy, to develop its production.  But it is unjust for the population, many of whom never or rarely fly, to have to pay for this fuel, for the minority who fly frequently.  SAF is the only tool the industry has, to try to cut CO2 emissions, while increasing flights and passengers. However, in 2019 it accounted for just 0.1% of jet fuel used in commercial aviation, and the sector hopes it will make up 0% of global jet fuel by 2030. 



The rich should pay higher fares to clean up aviation, says Heathrow boss

By Hanna Ziady, CNN

January 17, 2023

Rich travelers will have to pay more to fly if the aviation industry is to transition to greener fuels, the boss of one of the world’s biggest airports said Tuesday.

Speaking on a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos hosted by CNN’s Richard Quest, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said that wealthy individuals and companies should pay extra to fly with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in order to bring the costs down for everyone else, particularly people in developing countries.

He said that financiers and energy suppliers should invest in SAF production, including in emerging markets.

“But as individuals and companies we need to be paying the premium for sustainable aviation fuels so that we can get the cost of it down so that the mass market and developing countries don’t have to pay for the energy transition. The wealthy people in this room and wealthy nations should be funding the energy transition in aviation to help support developing countries,” he added.

Holland-Kaye said the solution to sustainable aviation was not to fly less, which was not necessarily an option outside Northern Europe, but to use cleaner sources of energy to travel.

Air Company’s CTO and Co-Founder Dr. Stafford Sheehan told CNN the company’s next facility will be “around 100 times the scale” of its pilot facility.

SAF is viewed as critical to reducing aviation’s carbon emissions but its green credentials come at a hefty price. Some airlines allow passengers to offset their CO2 emissions by paying more for their tickets to cover the extra cost of using SAF, but very few travelers currently make use of this option.

Holland-Kaye said that companies can play a major role accelerating the adoption of SAF because business travel accounts for about 30% of fuel used in aviation. He cited the example of Microsoft (MSFT), which has an internal carbon tax for travel that requires each business unit to pay a fee based on its carbon emissions.

Produced mainly from recycled food and agricultural waste, such as used cooking oil, SAF is a type of biofuel that cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to conventional jet fuel. [Silly statement, without any clarification. There is only a very small amount of used cooking oil, and though this is trotted out every time SAF is mentioned, it could only ever account for a tiny % of global jet fuel. And that is, if it is not needed by another sector. Also, SAF might lead to the emission of “up to” 60% of carbon emissions. The 80% figure is just an over-estimate.  AND when burned in a jet engine, aviation emissions cause perhaps twice as much climate impact as the fuel burned on the ground. That is always conveniently ignored by the aviation industry].  AW comment. 

It also costs between two and eight times more than its fossil-fuel based alternative, which is why in 2019 it accounted for just 0.1% of jet fuel used in commercial aviation, according to a report by the World Economic Forum and McKinsey.

In 2021, the industry pledged to replaced 10% of global jet fuel supply with SAF by 2030. This year, Virgin Atlantic plans to fly a Boeing 787 from London to New York powered solely by SAF in what has been billed as the world’s first net-zero transatlantic flight.

Clean energy investments need a major boost if the world is to meet its climate goals, according to Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted a surge in investment in renewables as countries race to secure alternative energy supplies, but much more needs to be done, he said.

Speaking on another Davos panel hosted by CNN’s Julia Chatterley earlier on Tuesday, Birol said that for every dollar invested in fossil fuels, the world is now investing $1.50 in clean energy. That needs to increase to $9 to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, he added.

— Anna Cooban contributed reporting.


See also:

Cutting back air travel is ‘Northern European indulgence,’ says Heathrow chief

Airport boss says switch to greener fuels key to reducing aviation’s carbon footprint

By Oliver Gill,
CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT and Chris Price (The Telegraph)
17 January 2023

The boss of Heathrow has attacked the flight-shaming movement by saying cutting back air travel is a “Northern European indulgence”.

John Holland-Kaye told delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos that avoiding air travel was not a solution to climate change.

He said that the key to reducing the aviation industry’s carbon footprint would be to switch to greener fuels – a move that Mr Holland-Kaye conceded would drive up fares in the short-term.

Air travel is estimated to contribute to between 2pc and 3pc of global carbon emissions. But this proportion is expected to soar in the years to come as other industries pare back on high pollution practices.

Although hydrogen and electric-powered aircraft are being developed, it is likely that they are decades away from replacing all traditional jet-powered planes.

Some airlines remain sceptical about the feasibility of new technologies. Meanwhile, planemaker Boeing is focusing its efforts on the development of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which is made from a wide array of items such as used cooking oils and used clothes.

Speaking during a question and answer session at the annual Swiss get-together, Mr Holland-Kaye urged wealthy nations to fund the switch to SAF.

The cost of travel would have to rise in the short-term to pay for the change to less pollutive fuels, but greater adoption in the medium to long-term would drive the cost down.

Greta Thunberg was at the forefront of the ‘flygskam’ or ‘flight shame’ movement that gained momentum prior to the pandemic to sow the seeds of unease among the public about taking flights.

Emmanuel Macron has sided with the Swedish climate change campaigner by banning certain domestic flights in France.

Mr Holland-Kaye acknowledged that aviation is a “significant” contributor to climate change but dismissed suggestions that avoiding air travel was the solution to climate change.

He said: “That is a northern European indulgence. We can choose not to travel in this part of the world but that is not going to affect travel in Asia, India and Africa.

“We need a solution that changes the energy use, not the travel.”

He added that everyone benefits the enrichment that comes from travel.

“We all get benefit out of being here,” he said. “The answer isn’t to stop travel. It’s to change the energy use of getting here.”




See earlier:


Virgin gets £1 million government funding for demonstration SAF flight

Virgin Atlantic has secured £1 million of UK Government funding (ie. from taxpayers) to fly a Boeing 787 jet from London Heathrow to New York JFK next year using so called “sustainable aviation fuel” (SAF) instead of kerosene. Virgin Atlantic and its partners are putting in similar funding. The SAF is expected to be produced primarily from waste oil and fats, such as used cooking oil. (There aren’t enough waste oils and fats in the world to power many planes …).  SAF can, in some circumstances, reduces carbon emissions by around 70% compared with kerosene.  The claim is that the other 30% will magically be offset by buying carbon credits (which usually do not actually do anything to remove CO2 from the atmosphere).  But SAF is expensive, and in short supply. Up till now, planes have only been allowed to fly with 50% SAF in an engine, but the UK DfT’s Baroness Vere said this plane with fly with 100%.  Using SAF is the only realistic tool the aviation industry has, to cut its carbon emissions, other than flying efficiencies. Hydrogen and electric planes are unlikely to make much impact for many decades, if ever. 




Aviation industry wants large scale government “incentives” to hugely ramp up SAF

The aviation industry only really has one way to cut its carbon emissions, without hugely cutting the number of passengers and flights. That is changing fuels, to allegedly “sustainable aviation fuel” (SAF). Those fuels can basically be produced from one sort of waste or another, or by using surplus renewably generated electricity (which is already in demand by other sectors). So what constitutes a genuine waste as feedstock, that is not competing with food or doing other environmental harm? Making fuel from domestic waste is hard. Taking crop and forestry wastes brings other environmental problems, such as the definition of waste being stretched too far. Then there is “used” cooking oil, and the problem that much of the oil is in fact virgin oil, that has been deviously branded as used. And there are animal fats and greases, such as beef tallow. Leaving aside the obscene concept of raising sentient animals, in poor conditions, to produce meat, then taking the fat from these sadly abused beings to burn in jet engines. There are many other markets and uses for animal fats, such as tallow. The industry, hell bent not only maintaining the current level of global flying, but increasing it, wants a range of government help and incentives to produce more SAF.