IATA is aiming for 1 billion passengers to travel on flights powered by a mix of jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2025, although the industry body said hitting this target will require government action.

“The momentum for sustainable aviation fuels is now unstoppable. From one flight in 2008, we passed the threshold of 100,000 flights in 2017, and we expect to hit 1 million flights during 2020. But that is still just a drop in the ocean compared to what we want to achieve. We want 1 billion passengers to have flown on a SAF-blend flight by 2025,” IATA DG and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said.

IATA estimates that a flight, powered only by sustainable fuel, would be 80% more emissions efficient.

As things stand, IATA forecasts that half a billion passengers will have flown on a SAF-blend powered flight by 2025. Doubling this figure by 2025 will require policy that supports the scale-up in sustainable-fuel production.

IATA wants governments to incentivize SAF production, enabling better competition with the automotive biofuels market, through loan guarantees, grants for production facilities and R&D funding.

De Juniac also called on policymakers to take a more harmonized approach to sustainable fuels, bringing together transport and energy policies, while also coordinating with agriculture and military departments.

Several airlines have already invested in SAF forward-purchases, including Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific, US-based FedEx Express, New York-based JetBlue, Germany’s Lufthansa, Australian flag carrier Qantas Airways and Chicago-based United Airlines.

Oslo, Stockholm, Brisbane and Los Angeles airports are already mixing SAF with the general fuel supply.

Through IATA, the airline industry has committed to carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and to cut net carbon emissions by 50% compared to 2005.

Victoria Moores victoria.moores@informa.com