Etihad Airways and World Energy Collaborate to Illustrate the Future of Net Zero Aviation by Flying to COP27 with Zero Emissions

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by KnowESG
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Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has collaborated with World Energy, a provider of carbon-net-zero solutions, to execute the first NetZero flight powered entirely by Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Book & Claim, transporting delegates to COP27 with zero net emissions.

The airline will fly from Washington Dulles to Abu Dhabi via COP27 venue Sharm-El-Sheik to demonstrate the only viable path to net-zero commercial aviation using current technology and highlight SAF's difficulties and prospects.

Mariam Alqubaisi, Head of Sustainability & Business Excellence, Etihad Airways, said: 

"This project is about proving that NetZero commercial aviation is possible, but it's also about facing the big logistical problems that the industry has to deal with to make the possible the norm. Etihad is working hard to keep its strong commitment to sustainable aviation. In 2020, it launched the Greenliner programme in partnership with Boeing, GE, and other leaders in the aviation industry. In 2021, it started working with Airbus and Rolls Royce on the Sustainabile50 programme. It has also promised to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and cut its net emissions in half by 2035.

“Through these programmes, we have run a series of ecoFlights over the past two years to test and validate several concepts. We have made refining and implementing sustainability initiatives an intrinsic part of our day-to-day operation. The NetZero flight is the next step after our EY20 operation from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi in October 2018. On that flight, we cut emissions by 72% compared to the same flight in 2019.

“This isn’t about solving only Etihad’s emissions, but about supporting the entire industry to address the biggest challenge we face over the next three decades.”

Gene Gebolys, CEO, World Energy, said: 

“Aviation is how the world connects, but we are on a collision course as flying people and goods is one of the most carbon-intensive things humans do. Aviation is on a path that can't last since it's expected to keep making up a bigger and bigger share of the world's carbon emissions. But there is a way off this course. The course correction will come from the fuel tank rather than the cockpit. Together, we can efficiently change the fuel we fly on, so we can change the impact of flying. We are grateful to corporate leaders like Etihad who are paving the way to help make net-zero aviation a reality.”

Enabling delegates to travel 10,000km emission-free to COP27, Etihad will buy (or book) SAF for the flight provided by fueling partner World Energy.

But the flight will use regular Jet-A1 fuel, and the SAF that Etihad bought will be delivered to the fuel system at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and used by other airlines flying out of that airport. LAX has the right infrastructure to receive World Energy's SAF and get it to where it needs to go. 

This is referred to as a Book & Claim system, and it is the preferred model for SAF use and distribution advocated for by the aviation and energy industries as a stopgap solution to make SAF available for global aviation until infrastructure and production capacity can catch up. Book & Claim is made up of transactions that have been carefully checked by a third party and follow the rules set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB).

Guests on the flight will not be charged an additional premium for their fare, although planning a NetZero flight without charging a surcharge to each passenger and cargo shipment is difficult given that the cost to produce SAF is four times that of JetA1.

Several things will contribute to the higher expenditures. The cost of the SAF will go down by 50% because of government subsidies, 28% because of the Corporate Conscious Choice programme, and 22% because of the Etihad Guest Raffle. The remaining 10% will be generated by tokenising and trading CO2e avoidance credits. This is possible because this is the first transatlantic flight that uses contrail avoidance prediction and flight planning to actively manage the effects of things other than CO2.

Since Etihad started its Greenliner programme in 2020, there have been several "EcoFlight" tests, each of which tested and proved a different idea. The NetZero flight will be the lastest of these tests.

Source: Etihad Airways

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