Turkish Airlines Charts A New, Greener Course With SAF Usage

Sustainable aviation fuels, or SAF, may still be in short supply. However, that is set to change with demand growing exponentially as the airline industry tries to clear itself of the image as one of the main polluting sectors in the world. Air France-KLM recently announced that the group was adding a SAF surcharge to all its tickets to add on average 1% drop-in biofuels to all its flights.

British Airways will begin using SAF produced in the UK next year. ANA says that drop-in alternatives are a central part of its sustainability strategy. United Airlines has made substantial investments into current advanced biofuel production and has a roadmap for future investments into other projects such as e-fuels when the technology matures, to name a few examples. The latest in the line to proclaim a pivot towards sustainable fuels is Turkish Airlines.

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Once a week to Paris to start

Under the motto “Our route is the future,” the carrier has begun partially powering some of its flights with advanced drop-in biofuels. The first flight, TK1823, took off from Istanbul for Paris Charles De Gaulle on Wednesday, February 2nd. It was operated by an Airbus A321 registered as TC-JSU.

Anna Zvereva via Flickr“>

Turkish Airlines Lego livery SAF first flight

The first flight powered by SAF out of Istanbul was operated by an A321 that previously sported the LEGO movie livery. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Flickr

Using Neste fuels

For now, the airline will only use it once per week on the service, but it says it has plans to add it to more routes and at a greater scale. It did not mention with what percentage the flights would use SAF. Professor Ahmet Bolat, Chairman of the Board and Executive Committee of Turkish Airlines, said,

“We are the airline that flies to more countries than any other in the world. This also means we are the airline that introduces its guests to the richest biodiversity as well. Our first flight that uses sustainable resources is a part of that vision. We conduct our work towards achieving sustainability with that mentality and responsibility.”

Like so many other carriers, Turkish Airlines will receive its SAF from Finnish fuel provider Neste. These are so-called second-generation biofuels made from renewable waste or products such as used cooking oil rather than food crops. The airline’s subsidiary, Turkish Fuel Services (TFS), facilitates the blending and fueling process.

Airbus SAFA

Turkish Airlines currently uses advanced biofuels for its SAF and is looking to algae for the future. Photo: Airbus

Algae-based jet fuel project underway in Turkey

One flight per week to Paris – and, reportedly, one to Stockholm, although it is not entirely clear when this will begin – may not be a big dent in overall emissions. However, it is a start, and Turkish Airlines is not stopping there. In collaboration with Bogaziçi University, the carrier is developing the Microalgae Based Sustainable BioJet Fuel Project (MICRO-JET). The partners hope to have the first carbon-negative biorefinery of Turkey and Europe up and running before long.

What do you think of airlines’ rush towards SAF? Is it a step in the right direction to reduce emissions, or is it a form of ‘greenwashing’? Does it matter to you if an airline uses SAF or not? Leave a comment and let us know.


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