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Kenyan Airways Leads Race To Net-Zero

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The aviation industry plays a significant role in global carbon emissions, contributing to climate change. A breakthrough in aviation fuel technology is set to revolutionize the industry and significantly reduce carbon emissions. This new fuel technology – SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) has the potential to cut the aviation industry’s carbon emissions by 62%.

How is it produced?

SAF constitutes a liquid fuel which reduces CO2 emissions by up to 80%. It can be produced from a number of sources including, waste oil and fats, green and municipal waste and non-food crops. SAF can also be synthetically produced. It can be obtained through a unique process that directly captures carbon from the atmosphere. Its production is considered “sustainable” as it does not interfere with the cultivation of food crops or deplete water supplies, nor does it contribute to the degradation of forests.

In contrast to fossil fuels that release carbon previously stored for ages, SAF recycles the CO2 absorbed by biomass throughout its lifespan, reducing CO2 levels.

Africa’s first SAF flight

In order for The International Air Transport Association (IATA) to reach its zero-emissions goal by 2050, they have put into place a comprehensive five-point plan that focuses on energy infrastructure, operations, finance and policy. Kenyan Airways recently showcased its commitment to reducing carbon emissions by testing sustainable flights within Kenya and to the Netherlands.

Kenyan Airways (KQ) was the first of the African charters to take up the Sustainable Flight Challenge by SkyTeam. The challenge was created to speed up the process of innovation in the form of embedded new practices in environmental sustainability.

The Boeing 787-800 (B787-8) Dreamliner did its first flight from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Amsterdam Schiphol in May this year using SAF. This is certainly a milestone for the African aviation industry and a significant step towards achieving net-zero emissions. The flight that was powered by Eni Sustainable Mobility’s aviation fuel, is a combination of JetA1 fuel and Eni Biojet. The SAF is produced in Eni’s refinery in Livorno by distilling the bio-components produced from the Gela biorefinery.

Allan Kilavuka’s Response

CEO of Kenyan Airways, Allan Kilavuka, expressed the importance of initiating the process of testing SAF, stating, “Working with Eni Sustainable Mobility to pilot the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) puts us on the first pathway to test the utilization of Sustainable Aviation Fuel within Africa.”

He further emphasized that the data and insights derived from the pilot flight would be invaluable in shaping policy decisions, regulatory frameworks, and industry best practices concerning SAF. He concluded, stating, “This will mark a significant milestone for Kenya Airways and the wider African aviation industry.”

It is anticipated that Kenyan Airways will also participate in the second edition of the Sustainable Flight Challenge, distinguishing themselves as leaders in driving sustainable energy innovation in Africa.

//Staff Writer

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