Sustainable aviation fuel and air travel emissions have been at the forefront of the industry recently, and Southwest Airlines is adding to that by using a system that will provide SAF data.
The airline will receive SAF inventory accounting and documenting services, which include certain Scope 3 emissions reduction rights, from aviation sustainability company 4AIR. Southwest’s SAF Beta Program includes options for corporate partners to purchase certain Scope 3 reduction rights through the airline’s use of qualifying SAF.
Southwest says the purchase of those rights will help it reduce the premium cost of SAF over conventional jet fuel, thus helping determine market demand for the industry. Southwest says SAF produced last year was less than 1% of global demand and is two to four times more expensive than traditional jet fuel.
The agreement with 4AIR comes less than two weeks after a United Nations organization officially pledged to reach net zero in aviation by 2050. The International Civil Aviation Organization, which includes more than 200 nations and other groups, also formed a program to increase the investment in and development of SAF.
Several businesses are also developing technologies and production methods for SAF to help meet demand. Honeywell has developed an ethanol-to-jet-fuel technology that the company says can help build SAF capacity more than a year faster than traditional methods.
Air Company is developing a SAF made from captured carbon dioxide. It is distributing the product under the name Airmade SAF and says it has commitments from those within the aviation industry to purchase more than 1 billion gallons of clean fuel, including airlines JetBlue and Virgin Atlantic and a partnership with the US Air Force. JetBlue is another airline that is helping track corporate emissions. Its Sustainable Travel Partners program offers data to help companies lower their emissions from business travel.
Overall, SAF is estimated to reduce carbon emissions by up to 80% compared to regularly used jet fuels. The International Air Transport Association says the fuel could contribute up to 65% of the emissions reductions the industry needs to achieve net zero by 2050.
4AIR says its framework seeks to address sustainability measures for the aviation industry with verifiable information to help reduce and counter emissions. It offers access to carbon markets, SAF, and support for new technologies.
Southwest’s SAF Beta Program helps its corporate customers lower their Scope 3 emissions through the airline’s use of SAF. Deloitte, Siemens USA, and Zurich North America are among those companies that are supporting the Southwest SAF beta effort.
“We have processes in place to track emission-reduction rights for our corporate partners in the program, and we are proud to add this additional layer to verify that emission-reduction rights purchased have been correctly accounted for,” says Helen Giles, Southwest’s director of environmental sustainability.
The airline says the partnership with 4AIR will also help it with its 10-year plan to maintain carbon neutrality based on 2019 levels while growing its operations. Southwest, which recently invested in a Department of Energy-backed SAF project, also has a goal of replacing 10% of its jet fuel with SAF by 2030.