The American Association of Airport Executives’ (AAAE) Airport Consortium on Transformation (ACT) Program, comprised of innovative airport leaders and aviation industry experts, has released its latest research examining the opportunities and challenges U.S. airports face to achieve widespread adoption of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as an approach to reduce carbon emissions. Supported by industry partners, this work seeks to increase familiarity with SAF and highlight policies and standards that airports, industry, and governments can enact to improve the utilization and distribution of SAF.
The working group’s findings conclude that compared to expansion of other carbon-reduction programs, such as electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles or aircraft, few changes are needed to on-airport infrastructure to distribute SAF. Additionally, there is an opportunity in the future for airports to lead the industry and support development of off-airport infrastructure for the blending and transportation facilities needed to deliver SAF for use at airports.
“SFO leads the world in SAF deliveries, and our journey to reach this point demonstrated that an industry coalition, combined with the support of public policymakers, can deliver a powerful solution to reduce the climate impacts of air travel,” said Erin Cooke, sustainability and environmental policy director at San Francisco International Airport. “This ACT publication, co-created with Arup, seeks to provide the insight airport leaders need to champion their own SAF strategies. We have learned firsthand how an airport can create the right environment to unlock SAF adoption, and we are excited for this transformation take off at airports across the nation.”
“Sustainable aviation fuel will be the backbone for decarbonizing the aviation sector,” added Raphael Sperry, associate principal at Arup. “As an alternative fuel source that can be readily incorporated into existing systems, SAF is the most practical path to carbon savings for the aviation industry in the short term. Arup is pleased to support AAAE in ensuring that airports are ready to play a constructive role in the transition to low- (and eventually zero-) carbon flight.”
“San Francisco International Airport, Arup, and the participants within this ACT working group have a heritage of environmental and sustainability leadership in our industry,” concluded Kyle Herbig, vice president of airport solutions at AAAE. “By sharing their extensive knowledge and experience with SAF distribution, they have demonstrated a sensible means by which airports nationwide can participate in decarbonization starting with infrastructure already in place, producing timely and positive benefits for the environment.”
This research evaluates the current SAF supply chain; infrastructure needs; government and industry incentives, mandates, and credits. Included in the research are initiatives U.S. airports are piloting to advance the use of sustainable aviation fuels and resources airport executives can use to further momentum and transition to SAF.