San Francisco announces agreement for use of sustainable aviation fuels

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has announced a landmark agreement for the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) – a low-carbon and sustainably produced alternative to jet fuel.

The airport has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a group of eight airlines and fuel producers to work cooperatively on expanding the use of SAF at SFO.

The four airlines – United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and Cathay Pacific – represent nearly 70 per cent of all flights at SFO, while the four fuel producers include the airport’s two primary suppliers, Chevron and Shell, along with Neste and LanzaTech.

The agreement is the first of its kind to include fuel suppliers, airlines, and airport agencies in a collaborative effort to accelerate the global transition to sustainable fuels.

“SFO is an industry leader in sustainability, and we are proud to be the first airport to sign a truly holistic agreement on the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels,” said airport director, Ivar C. Satero.

“By including the entire supply chain process, from producer to end user, this agreement has the power to drive a truly meaningful reduction in aviation-related greenhouse gas emissions. I appreciate the commitment of the airlines, fuel providers, and fuel consortium that came together for this historic agreement,” he added.

Together with SFO Fuel, the Airport’s Fuel Consortium, these partners will continue to actively strive to increase SAF supply globally and at SFO. Airlines at SFO currently use over one billion gallons of jet fuel annually.

If sustainable aviation fuel suppliers are able to increase global supply from the current five million gallons per year to 500 million gallons per year, the use of SAF could prevent nearly 4.8 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year – equivalent to taking over one million cars off the roads.

Already, SFO is working on a study to identify the necessary supply chain and infrastructure required to make this expansion of SAF at the Airport a reality, and is preparing an implementation plan to do so.

SFO is posturing for increased interest in the California market for SAF producers and suppliers, given the additional incentives likely to be made available, through a California Air Resources Board ruling allowing the opt-in inclusion of SAF in the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).  This is the first sub-national government to offer any incentive for the benefits provided by SAF.

MOU signatories participate in a SAF stakeholder working group, convened by SFO last year to be diversely composed of airlines, fuel providers, government agencies, and researchers and non-governmental organizations. This working group commissioned the SAF Study, partnered to collectively advocate for SAF’s inclusion in the Low Carbon Fuel Standard.