Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, has signed an agreement with Cepsa, a Mubadala group company, to accelerate the decarbonization of air transport by researching and producing sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).
The sustainable fuels will be produced from circular raw materials that do not compete with food resources, such as used cooking oils, non-food animal waste or biodegradable waste from various industries, and will make it possible to reduce aircraft emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional kerosene.
The partnership, announced at the Adipec Exhibition & Conference in Abu Dhabi, will also work on the development of new energy alternatives such as renewable hydrogen and the electrification of Etihad’s ground fleets, which include supply vehicles, baggage loading and unloading operations and aircraft assistance.
Maarten Wetselaar, CEO of Cepsa, said: “Decarbonising air transport is one of the major challenges of our times and Cepsa is committed to playing a critical role in meeting that challenge alongside important partners like Etihad. Partnerships like the one signed today reinforce our determination to transform air travel into a more sustainable mode of transport.”
Adam Boukadida, Chief Financial Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “Aviation decarbonization is the biggest challenge facing our industry and the development of commercially viable sustainable aviation fuel is a key requirement to meet the industry sustainability target. Our MoU with Cepsa allows us to tackle the first challenge, building demand for SAF, which in turn encourages further production and increases availability to eventually lower costs and enable further SAF uptake from the wider industry. It’s a snowball effect, which is essential if we’re to overcome the main challenges standing in the way to a commercially viable solution.”
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) is in line with the European Commission’s Fit for 55 package, which includes a legislative initiative called ‘RefuelEU Aviation’ that aims to boost the supply and demand of aviation biofuels in the European Union to 2% use by 2025, 5% by 2030 and 63% by 2050. This partnership supports several of the 2030 Agenda’s
Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 7 (ensure access to affordable, secure, sustainable and modern energy), SDG 8 (promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work), SDG 12 (ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns) and SDG 13 (take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts).
As one of the main producers and suppliers of aviation fuels in the Spanish market, this new agreement with a leading airline consolidates Cepsa’s aim to become a leader in the clean energy sector and to spearhead the decarbonization of air transport.