Hong-Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways is optimistic about its commitment to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), even though the product continues to be much pricier than conventional jet fuel. The airline aims to achieve carbon-neutral growth by 2020.

Speaking at the IATA Alternative Fuel Symposium in Singapore Nov. 16, Cathay biofuel and carbon manager Yee Chow said all of Cathay’s Airbus A350-900/1000 delivery flights from Toulouse are powered by a blend of 10% SAF. The airline anticipates using 80,000-100,000 gallons of SAF for these delivery flights, achieving 900 tons of carbon savings.

Despite rising oil prices, Cathay has no plans to accelerate use of SAF, which is estimated to cost approximately twice as much as conventional jet fuel.

“However, in addition to rising oil costs, there are several global and regional carbo pricing mechanisms, such as [ICAO Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation] CORSIA, being introduced that will begin to put a price on carbon. As such, the economics could become more favorable in the future,” Chow told ATW.

Cathay was the first airline to invest in US-based Fulcrum BioEnergy and has agreed to a deal to have 375 million gallons of SAF supplied over 10 years, representing approximately 2% of the airline’s fuel consumption annually. Fulcrum will also supply SAF for Cathay at Los Angeles International Airport, which Chow said will begin around 2021-2022.

“Incentive schemes only form part of our consideration in the use of SAF. Governments can also help through the provision of supporting infrastructure for fuel supply and logistics,” chow said. “The Hong Kong Airport Authority recently carried out a feasibility study for the use of SAF at Hong Kong International Airport—being one of the few airports in the world to do so. We support the initiative and continue to work closely with them on the potential for SAF.”

Chen Chuanren, chuanren@purplelightvisuals.com