As the aviation industry bolsters its climate action initiatives and with online shoppers become even more environmentally conscious about their purchases, Shell Aviation has signed an agreement with DHL Express to supply sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for regular flights from Schiphol Airport.
With commercial airlines operating at a reduced capacity, Shell sees the deal as way for the cargo sector to influence the take-up of SAF in the aviation industry, saying that cargo operators can play an important role in driving demand signals for the increased investment in and use of SAF.
“Today’s agreement is an excellent example of how the cargo aviation sector can help accelerate aviation’s pathway to net-zero emissions by building demand as the fuel industry seeks to increase supply of SAF,” said Anna Mascolo, President, Shell Aviation.
DHL, who has committed to achieving zero emissions by 2050, believes that sustainable fuel will play a crucial role in delivering on its climate ambitions to reduce the climate impact of transport emissions.
“Flying on SAF is an important step in our decarbonisation journey, both for our operations and reducing the emissions footprint of transported goods for our customers,” said Alberto Nobis, CEO of DHL Express Europe.
In November, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on governments to support the shift to SAF by providing stimulus packages, such as direct investment, loan guarantees and incentives for the private sector, as well as regulations that channel feedstock towards hard-to-abate sectors such as aviation rather than to other low-carbon transport industries.
Carbon neutral flights for air cargo have already started in Europe led by Lufthansa and DB Schenker last November. Air France KLM Martinair Cargo followed suit with its own SAF programme in early December. Both European carriers launched programmes that would allow freight forwarders and shippers to reduce their carbo emissions.
In Asia, ANA is one of the few airlines that has adopted the use of SAF through a procurement agreement with Neste, who inked a deal with Shell Aviation in September to increase its supply. DHL Express is the first customer to be supplied under Shell and Neste’s SAF supply agreement.
SAF, on average, is 2-4 times more expensive than fossil fuel with current global production at about 100 million litres a year or just 0.1 percent of the total amount of aviation fuel consumed by the industry.
IATA estimates that stimulus investments could bring up production to the 2 percent or 6-7 billion litres needed to trigger a ‘potential tipping point’ to bring SAF to competitive price levels.
Shell said the volume of SAF to be supplied to DHL Express will represent a year of the express operator’s fuel requirements from Schiphol Airport. The SAF will be used in blended form and is made from sustainably sourced, renewable waste and residue raw materials.