On Tuesday, JetBlue and Shell Aviation announced a new collaboration aimed at bringing more sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). This agreement highlights the growing demand for SAF and the importance of investing in sustainable supply chains.
Per JetBlue’s 2021 Sustainability Report, the company observed a 35% decrease from 2019 mostly from reduced flying due to COVID-19 impacts, but also further reduction due to fuel efficiency initiatives and SAF deliveries.
The Details of the Agreement
Under the terms of the agreement, JetBlue will take delivery of 10,000,000 gallons of blended SAF at LAX over the next two years, with an option to purchase up to 5,000,000 gallons more in the third year, either at LAX or other airports in JetBlue’s network. SAF is a type of renewable fuel that can be produced from a wide array of renewable sources, such as agricultural wastes and used cooking oils. It can lower lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 80% in its neat form when compared to traditional petroleum-based fuels.
According to the US Department of Energy, an estimated 1 billion dry tons of biomass can be collected sustainably each year in the United States, enough to produce 50–60 billion gallons of low-carbon biofuels.
Shell’s Investment in SAF
Shell Aviation has announced its ambition to have 10% of its aviation jet fuel sales as SAF by 2030. To meet this goal, the company is building supply chain capabilities to blend, handle, distribute, and provide access to SAF.
JetBlue’s Commitment to Sustainable Aviation
JetBlue’s goal is to reach net zero by 2040, 10 years earlier than industry targets. To achieve this, the airline has made several sustainability commitments, including using SAF. The additional SAF provided through Shell Aviation at LAX will increase the airline’s SAF supply at the airport, bringing SAF to approximately 15% of JetBlue’s total LAX jet fuel uptake. JetBlue also regularly flies on SAF out of San Francisco and has signed agreements with three additional SAF producers for future supply.
Corporate Travel Emissions Reduction
Through Avelia, one of the world’s first blockchain-powered digital SAF book-and-claim solutions for business travel, organizations will be able to directly address their corporate travel emissions with the purchase of JetBlue-issued SAF certificates. Developed by Shell and Accenture, with the support of the Energy Web Foundation (EWF), Avelia includes American Express Global Business Travel’s world-leading travel management services to aggregate global business demand for SAF.
Comments from the Two Companies
“We’ve long said we need multiple key stakeholders to step up to reach our aggressive emissions reduction goals. This deal with Shell is a key signal of the growing engagement of the major fuel producers to begin converting conventional jet fuel to SAF,” said Robin Hayes, chief executive officer, JetBlue. “Shell’s involvement, with their expertise in energy markets and logistics, is a validation of the SAF market’s potential and highlights how critical the SAF transition of our hard-to-decarbonize industry is to establishing a more sustainable future of flight.”
“It’s terrific to be supporting JetBlue once again in its decarbonization efforts. Like Shell, JetBlue understands that SAF will be the key technology to help decarbonize flight,” commented Jan Toschka, President of Shell Aviation. “LAX is a critical North American airport hub and we’re delighted to be able to provide JetBlue and corporations on its Sustainable Travel Partners program access to SAF, allowing them to lower their emissions while jointly contributing to investments in SAF.”
Encouraging a Diverse and Competitive SAF Market
JetBlue is committed to encouraging a diverse and competitive SAF market to increase supply and drive down the cost of SAF to compete with traditional fuel sources. To expand SAF usage to other airports, additional federal and state-level programs to encourage the voluntary use of lower carbon fuels through incentives will also be key in changing the economics for producers and airline purchasers.