Home / Companies / News /  India has the potential to become SAF market, says Airbus

NEW DELHI: India has all the ingredients to become a large market for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), Julien Manhes, head of Sustainable Fuel Projects at Airbus told Mint.

The use of SAF gives unique opportunity to countries to reduce their dependence on fossil fuel and it needs a regulator to implement policies and airlines which are willing, Manhes said. “Sustainable aviation fuel is at the beginning of becoming larger at scale..globally currently it has less than 1% of overall fuel consumption."

Globally, airlines like United, Air France, EasyJet, Qantas, Lufthansa have been quicker in adapting to SAF, others are a bit slower but Airbus expects that by 2050, nearly 70% of the global ATF consumption should be SAF driven.

Fuel efficiency is also one of the steps towards energy conservation, Manhes said, adding that 63% of Indian fleet comprises fuel-efficient new generation aircraft, Manhes said.

Airbus is working on changes to aerodynamic, avionic and other small changes to aircraft technology to gain better fuel efficiency, Manhes added.

The company is working on a new project on hydrogen and expect the commercial entry of such an aircraft into service by 2035. The aim is to have “ a good double-digit“ saving when it comes to fuel efficiency as comapred to the current product.

Cost is a factor for adpation to SAF but economies of scale will be important. However, Manhes said, that there has been evidence of eagerness in corporate travellers across Europe and US to pay more for an airline which is inclined towards SAF.

“Whether fares go up or not depends on the airlines, depends on local regulations," he added.

India's ministry of civil aviation and the ministry of petroleum and natural gas are working on issuing a roadmap for sustainable aviation fuel over the next few months, officials in the know of the matter said. This would lay the framework for lowering carbon emissions by the aviation industry.

The concept of sustainable aviation fuel among Indian airlines is still at a nascent stage. So far, there have been a handful of demonstration flights on blended fuel for lower carbon emissions. In August 2018, SpiceJet operated the first such flight which operated on a blend of 75% aviation turbine fuel and 25% biojet fuel made from jatropha plant.

IndiGo had also taken delivery of an aircraft which ran on sustainable aviation fuel in February 2022. In December last year, the airline signed an agreement with Dehradun-based Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Indian Institute of Petroleum to manufacture and deploy sustainable aviation fuel globally.

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