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Qatar Airways first in Mideast to sign Shell deal for 3K tons of sustainable fuel

The airline said that the deal will allow it to reduce emissions on flights from Amsterdam by approximately 7,500 tons of CO2 for the fiscal year.
Qatar Airways plane 2

Qatar Airways has signed a deal with energy giant Shell to source 3,000 metric tons of neat sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for its operations at Amsterdam Schiphol airport.  

SAF is made of biomass called feedstocks, such as forestry or agricultural waste or cooking oil. It produces up to 80% fewer carbon emissions over its life cycle compared to the traditional jet fuel it replaces.

The Qatar Airways deal builds on an existing jet fuel contract that the Gulf airline has with Shell at Amsterdam, which will now see the carrier use at least 5% SAF over the contract period for the fiscal year 2023-2024. It means that Qatar Airways will be reducing its emissions on flights from Amsterdam by approximately 7,500 tons of CO2 for the fiscal year, the airline said in a Wednesday press release.

The deal is part of a wider sustainable fuel push by the One World Alliance, of which Qatar Airways is a member. The alliance, which also has American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia among its members, has set a target of using SAF for 10% of combined fuel volumes by 2030. 

Qatar Airways group chief executive Akbar Al Baker said his airline was “strongly committed” to ramping up the use of SAF.

“Last year, we signed our first offtake agreement in the US, and now we are placing a multimillion US dollar SAF deal in Amsterdam to illustrate our SAF commitment and reiterate our calls for a more robust SAF supply chain across our global network,” Baker said in the release.

“We remain steadfast in our ambitious target of 10% SAF use by 2030, and this announcement establishes another landmark for Qatar Airways that underlines the positive outcome of the industry’s collaboration that is critical to accelerating the SAF supply and achieving our target,” he added.

“SAF is still 3 to 5 times more expensive than fossil-based jet fuel," Baker said. "This is why it is essential for all stakeholders to play their part in facilitating research and development of SAF facilities, enhancing economies of scale, providing financing and placing supportive policies.”

Jan Toschka, president of Shell Aviation, added, “SAF is a key lever for decarbonizing aviation, but scaling its supply and use requires concerted action from across the aviation sector. Today’s agreement is a great example of the collaborative actions that are required to help accelerate aviation’s progress toward net zero.”

But only last week, Baker expressed his doubts that the industry would struggle to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, as there was not enough production of SAF.

The Shell deal makes Qatar Airways the first Middle Eastern carrier to procure a large amount of SAF in Europe, beyond government SAF guidelines.

Other Middle Eastern airlines have used SAF, however. Etihad Airways flew a low-emission flight with SAF from Washington Dulles Airport to Abu Dhabi via Sharm El Sheikh in November to carry delegates to the COP27 climate conference.

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