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Emirates begins operating with SAF at London Heathrow Airport

Photo: Emirates

Emirates announced May 15 that it has taken delivery of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from Shell Aviation at London Heathrow Airport. 


Over 3,000 metric tons of neat SAF, blended with conventional jet fuel, will be supplied into the fueling infrastructure network of the airport* until the end of this summer. 


This is the first time the airline will be using SAF to power some of its flights at London Heathrow and represents the largest volume of SAF it has purchased to date.


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


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


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


In its neat form, SAF can reduce lifecycle-carbon emissions by up to 80 percent compared to using conventional jet fuel.  


“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,” said Adel Al Redha, Emirates Airline’s deputy president and chief operations officer. “The LHR incentive program will support the SAF market’s increasing momentum, allowing airlines like Emirates to take advantage of its availability and make it more commercially viable. 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 around optimizing flight operations including weight reduction of aircraft and charting more efficient flight routes, among other initiatives.”


Raman Ojha, the president of Shell Aviation, added, “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 U.K. 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."


Ross Baker, Heathrow’s chief commercial officer, said, “We are thrilled to support Emirates with Heathrow’s SAF scheme. SAF is crucial to decarbonizing long-haul flights as it can cut the 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 tons of SAF at Heathrow this year. Now we need to ramp up SAF production in the U.K. so the country can benefit from jobs, growth and energy security as more airlines make the switch to more sustainable fuels.”


Launched in 2022, London Heathrow’s SAF incentive is a 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 U.K.’s competitiveness by unlocking investment in clean-energy investments like SAF production.


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 United Arab Emirates with the potential to supply SAF at its hub.


Emirates currently operates flights from Amsterdam, Paris, Lyon and Oslo with SAF.


Last year, the airline collaborated with Shell Aviation to supply SAF into Dubai Airport fueling systems for the first time ever, allocating the SAF to a number of flights.


In May of this year, the airline plans to work with local partners at Singapore Changi Airport for the supply of SAF through the airport’s fueling systems. 


Earlier this year, Emirates became the first international carrier to join the Solent Cluster in the U.K., an initiative focused on low-carbon investments with the potential to create a sustainable aviation fuel plant that can produce up to 200,000 tons 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.


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



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