Passengers flying Air France-KLM will see a surcharge on ticket prices to help offset the cost of sustainable aviation fuel starting this week.
The race to bring sustainable jet fuel to the aviation industry got a boost today as Air France announced a sustainable fuel surcharge. For economy class travelers, the charge will be between €1 to €4, for business class travelers it increases to €1.5 to €12 depending on flight distance. Both partner and subsidiary airlines KLM and Transavia flights will also see the surcharges.
Air France says it replaces between 0.5 percent and one percent of all kerosene with sustainable fuel options currently. The aim is to steadily increase the ratio. The goal is to reach five percent by 2030, increasing to 63 percent by 2050, the airline said.
“In the absence of industrial production, the cost of using sustainable aviation fuels is four to eight times higher than that of fossil fuels,” Air France-KLM said in a statement.
Sustainable aviation fuel
Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) can reduce emissions by 75 percent compared with kerosene fuels. But cost has been a big detractor. Jet fuel is already one of the airline industry’s biggest expenses. Switching to a sustainable option would increase costs four to eight times over current fuel prices.
The announcement comes after a new law went into effect at the beginning of the year. France now requires airlines refueling on French soil to use at least one percent SAF. That increases to two percent in 2025 and five percent in 2030.
Air France says as more countries adopt similar measures, the price would eventually come down for sustainable fuel options. In 2019, SAF made up less than 0.1 percent of all aviation fuel, about 360 billion liters.
The airline industry is a major producer of greenhouse gas emissions. Air travel produces about 2.5 percent to three percent of all emissions. But the industry is on a path toward carbon neutrality. The industry’s aim is to be carbon neutral by 3050.
Airline industry targets
Late last year United Airlines made its first U.S. flight with 50 percent sustainable jet fuel from Chicago to Washington D.C.
“This is really a major milestone demonstrating that the future should be flying sustainably,” said Lauren Riley, managing director of global environmental affairs and sustainability at United Airlines.
“Today, at least at United Airlines, 98 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions across our entire operations are from consuming jet fuel as we fly our planes. And transitioning to using alternative fuels, like sustainable aviation fuel, is really, really important because it pulls down the carbon dioxide emissions from flying,” Riley said.
A number of airlines have added offset programs to help commuters reduce their carbon footprints, but they haven’t introduced surcharges as of yet. Air France says it will now offer passengers an opportunity to offset their travel footprint through a donation to increase sustainable fuel use.
Last year aviation engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce said its Trent engines will be compatible with 100 percent jet fuel within the next two years. It’s first fully electric offering, the ‘Spirit of Innovation,’ took its first flight last month.