Kuehne + Nagel and IAG Cargo to use UK-produced sustainable aviation fuels

Transport firm Kuehne + Nagel is partnering with the cargo arm of International Airlines Group (IAG) to source eight million litres of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), in a move that is expected to reduce emissions equivalent to 150 flights between London and New York.

Kuehne + Nagel and IAG Cargo to use UK-produced sustainable aviation fuels

Kuehne + Nagel and IAG Cargo will source the SAFs from Phillips 66 Limited’s Humber Refinery

Kuehne + Nagel and IAG Cargo will source the SAFs from Phillips 66 Limited’s Humber Refinery, which is the first ever large-scale production of UK SAFs.

Kuehne+Nagel claims that the eight million litres of SAFs, which will be delivered throughout 2022, will remove approximately 18,300 tonnes of CO2, which is the equivalent of 150 British Airways flights between London and New York.

IAG Cargo’s chief commercial officer John Cheetham said: “Sustainable aviation fuels are supporting the industry to significantly lower carbon emissions and we know reducing carbon footprint is important for our customers, colleagues and partners.

“I’m delighted that we are once again collaborating with Kuehne+Nagel. This is an important next step in our commitment to reducing our impact on the environment. Partnerships like these are key as we continue to look at ways to support sustainable air cargo.”

Last summer, IAG Cargo and Kuehne+Nagel completed 16 charter flights from Stuttgart to Atlanta in what it claims was a carbon-neutral first. Those flights were powered by 1.2m litres of SAFs.

At the start of the year, Iberia, the Spanish firm owned by IAG, signed an agreement with energy firm Cepsa to develop and trial sustainable aviation biofuels (SAFs) while exploring other measures to decarbonise flight including renewable hydrogen and electrification.

As part of the IAG Group, Iberia and Iberia Express have committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 This includes a target to operate a minimum of 10% of flights with SAFs by 2030.

It has not clarified the percentage of SAF blend it will use; current restrictions cap biofuel blending at 50%. However, it has said it will purchase a million tonnes of SAF annually from 2030, in a move that will reduce annual emissions by two million tonnes. The business’s existing SAF suppliers include LanzaJet and Velocys.

IAG had already pledged to spend $400m through to 2040 to develop SAF plants across the world. In the UK specifically, it is lobbying the Government to support up to 14 plants by 2030.

The state of play for SAF in the UK is mixed. The technology has been supported by dozens of big businesses and with standalone funding from the Government.

However, some had been hoping for more Government funding and long-term support as part of the Covid-19 recovery package. Moreover, the UK’s first waste-to-SAF plant, spearheaded by Velocys, was dealt a blow last year after Shell pulled out of the venture. Shell said in a statement in January that it was exiting the project after agreeing to jointly fund another plant in Canada, which developers claim could produce more than double the fuel using less than half the waste. Velocys expects to begin producing fuel to the original timeline of 2025, without Shell.

Questions also remain about the extent to which SAF can reduce the aviation sector’s climate impact in line with the Paris Agreement. The UK Government’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) recommended that, along with SAF, more should be done to scale electric aircraft and to cap demand growth.

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