• TUI Group

TUI, Cepsa join forces to decarbonize flying with sustainable aviation fuel

Photo: TUI Group

TUI, one of the world’s leading tourism groups, and Spanish energy company Cepsa have signed a collaboration agreement to promote the production and supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), a key tool to further reduce the carbon footprint of air transport and a priority for both companies to fight against climate change. These fuels will be produced from circular raw materials that do not compete with food resources, such as used cooking oils, nonfood animal waste or biodegradable waste from various industries, and will make it possible to reduce aircraft emissions by up to 80 percent compared to conventional kerosene.

TUI has been working to reduce its environmental footprint for years and is on a journey to net-zero emissions travel, with the goal to be achieved by 2050 at the latest. To reach this goal and progressively stem the emissions from holiday travel, TUI will increasingly rely on new energy alternatives.

“We see the sustainable transformation not as regulation but as an opportunity for TUI and the travel industry, for destinations, for employees and customers,” said Thomas Ellerbeck, chief sustainability officer and member of the group executive committee at TUI Group. “Sustainable tourism not only has a lower ecological footprint, but also supports change in holiday destinations—offering opportunities for local people in destinations and creating social and economic added value. Social, ecological and economic sustainability belong together. Emission-free travel is our ambitious goal. Whether the flight to the holiday destination, the cruise, the overnight stay in the hotel or experiences booked locally—together with partners as well as our own concepts and projects to reduce emissions, we are working continuously and in concrete terms towards the goal of net zero. Every business segment, whether TUI hotels and resorts, cruises or airlines, has goals and a clear roadmap—in addition, intermediate steps are important, we want and must achieve net zero faster than 2050.”

Marco Ciomperlik, chief airline officer of TUI Group, added, “Collaborations like the one with Cepsa support the achievement of our climate goals. We have set ourselves ambitious reduction targets for TUI Airlines, which are currently being validated by the independent Science Based Targets initiative. SAF plays a crucial role in reducing emissions in aviation and for TUI. At the same time, such cooperations contribute to increasing the availability of sustainable aviation fuels in the future. After all, in addition to more carbon-efficient aircraft, SAF in particular is an important lever for more sustainable travel.”

TUI is working with strong partners to implement its plans to reduce emissions and has a longstanding partnership with Spanish-based Cepsa. Spain, especially with its holiday islands such as the Canary and Balearic Islands, is one of the most important destinations for TUI Airlines. Cepsa supplies TUI not only with kerosene and in the future with SAF, but also with fuel for coaches in some of the destinations and for the ships of the group’s cruise division, two areas where the companies will also work together to pursue decarbonization.

“Cepsa is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and that of its customers through the production of clean energies like sustainable aviation fuel, a proven way to decarbonize air travel,” said Carlos Barrasa, Cepsa’s director of commercial and clean energies. “Partnerships like the one with TUI are crucial to this effort, not just for air transport, but also in our joint pursuit of cleaner alternatives for other forms of travel as well.”

Tobi Pardo, Cepsa’s director of aviation and asphalts, said, “This new alliance to create more sustainable forms of air transport reinforces our commitment to offer increasingly low-carbon solutions for our customers. We want to walk this path alongside our customers, with whom we share a strong determination in fighting climate change.”

SAF is produced from different feedstocks than crude oil. It can be produced in different ways, for example from biomass such as lipids, alcohols, residual or waste materials, or from renewable energy. These electricity-based fuels—so-called “power-to-liquid” fuels—are also considered very promising. Here, carbon dioxide and water are converted into fuel with the help of electricity from renewable energies. The advantage is there is no need to cultivate biomass. SAF is still only available in limited quantities and is more expensive than conventional fuel from crude oil. But TUI sees great potential here—and is committed to making SAF comprehensively usable so that it can be produced at marketable prices in the long term. Declarations of intent underpin this commitment.

The agreement is in line with the European Commission’s Fit for 55 package, which includes a legislative initiative called “RefuelEU Aviation” that aims to boost the supply and demand of aviation biofuels in the European Union to 2 percent use by 2025, 5 percent by 2030 and 63 percent by 2050.

A comprehensive TUI Sustainability Agenda will be introduced in November. Reducing the environmental footprint of travel will continue to be an essential part of TUI’s commitment to sustainability, as will be social and economic aspects.

TUI Airlines is already among the most carbon-efficient in the world. TUI has continuously invested in new aircraft and today flies a very modern and carbon-efficient fleet by German, European and international standards. In addition to sustainable aviation fuels, TUI has many other measures in mind to drive energy-efficient travel and significantly reduce emissions. Continuing investments in modern, more carbon-efficient aircraft are part of this, as are continuous efficiency improvements in flight operations.

Cepsa introduced its clean-energy strategy, Positive Motion, earlier this year. The company is developing an ecosystem focused on accelerating the decarbonization of industrial customers and air and maritime transport, as well as the company itself, through the production of green molecules, mainly renewable hydrogen and biofuels. Cepsa aspires to be the leading biofuel producer in Spain and Portugal by 2030 and to produce 2.5 million tons annually, with a particular focus on the sustainability of air traffic by producing 800,000 tons of SAF every year.

The company has established an ambitious roadmap to cut its emissions, placing it among the benchmark companies in its sector. Specifically, by 2030, it will reduce its scope 1 and 2 emissions by 55 percent versus 2019 and the carbon-intensity index of its energy-products sales, which includes scopes 1, 2 and 3, between 15 and 20 percent.

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