AviationDemand for eco-friendlier travel increases, but government support is crucial to keep flying costs down, saya GlobalData.

Green and guilt-free flying? Airlines are on board

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Sustainable aviation fuel is able to reduce carbon emissions by up to 80% during its full life cycle.
Sustainable aviation fuel is able to reduce carbon emissions by up to 80% during its full life cycle. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/Scharfsinn86

45% of the 241 travellers surveyed in a recent GlobalData poll want a more sustainable flying service. The aviation industry says it is committed to reduce carbon emissions, but needs government support to accelerate carbon-neutral goals.

Crucial to the airline industry's sustainable challenge is the development of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). These are jet fuels made from renewable waste and residue raw material, such as used cooking oil and animal fat waste. SAF reportedly can reduce carbon emissions by up to 80% during its full life cycle.

British Airways, Malaysia Airlines and United Airlines are some of the carriers that have recently flown using SAF. Singapore Airlines announced it will start piloting SAFs in 2022.

Gus Gardner, associate travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, said, “SAF will play a crucial role in reducing aviation’s short-term impact on the environment, yet the sheer cost and lack of funding for the new technology fuel is holding back development. Even though key players are investing and creating working groups, SAF is still not produced at an economically viable price.”

With the pandemic impacting the airline industry, SAF investments will decline until passenger numbers rebound. For eco-travel to work long-term, governments need to look at alternative options beyond SAF, such as powerplants for aircraft.

Air travel is already costly during these times. But green travel is still achievable: with airlines flying direct paths to increase fuel efficiency and for travellers to choose carriers with lower emission flights to create an impact.

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