Swiss première: aircraft refuelled with sustainable aviation fuel at Zurich Airport for the first time

Today, a business aircraft was refuelled with a blend of sustainable and conventional fuel at Zurich Airport for the first time. Thanks to the close collaboration between Jet Aviation, Zurich Airport and Finnish renewable jet fuel producer Neste “Sustainable Aviation Fuel” (SAF) will be made available for fuelling business jets departing from Zurich Airport during this year’s annual meeting of World Economic Forum (WEF).

Today at Zurich Airport marked the first time that a business jet was refuelled with a blend of conventional jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuel. This joint project between Jet Aviation, Zurich Airport and Finnish renewable jet fuel producer Neste is the first of its kind in Switzerland. Neste MY Renewable Jet Fuel reduces greenhouse gas emission up to 80% compared to jet fuel from fossil sources. This cooperation offers Jet Aviation the opportunity to deliver SAF blend to business flights operating in Zurich during this year’s annual meeting of World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. 

Path to climate-friendly air travel
Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) are a promising approach to more climate-friendly air travel. They offer the potential for flights to be taken without emitting additional CO2 into the atmosphere. The basic principle is simple: by using renewable feedstock that has already bound CO2, the SAF produced in this way is nearly CO2-neutral. 

Currently, SAF has to be imported into Switzerland from abroad. The SAF première at Zurich Airport shows that, with a high level of commitment from the partners involved and in close collaboration with the Swiss authorities and the underground fuelling provider, it is fundamentally possible to establish a functioning supply chain. At the same time, Emanuel Fleuti, Head of Environmental Protection at Flughafen Zürich AG, points out: “From logistics to import and distribution on site, significant hurdles have to be overcome before a jet can be fuelled with SAF at a Swiss airport. I’m all the more delighted that, together with our partners at Zurich Airport and the Swiss authorities, we have managed to prove that this is possible.” Joao Martins, senior director and GM of Jet Aviation’s FBO Operations in Zurich also emphasises: “We began preparing for the prestigious WEF event months ago and have been working very closely with the Zurich Airport managerial team and Swiss Authorities to ensure we could gain all the necessary approvals to import sustainable aviation fuel in time for WEF. I would like to take this opportunity to extend sincere thanks to Zurich Airport for their unwavering support in bringing SAF to Zurich. It has also been our distinct pleasure to work with Neste, whose commitment to developing renewable energy solutions makes sustainable aviation possible.”

Investments in availability and marketability required
All of the SAF available – including the blend used in Zurich – is certified and equivalent to conventional jet fuel in terms of technical properties. Aside from availability, widespread use of SAF is also made more difficult due to the fact that SAF is still around three to four times more expensive than conventional jet fuel. Further investments and research are necessary to make alternative fuels cheaper and a viable, marketable option in aviation. The initial use of SAF at Zurich Airport should therefore be viewed as an impetus for policy-makers to create a framework which would improve the availability and marketability of SAF. For example, if the proceeds from a potential national flight ticket levy currently discussed in the National Parliament of Switzerland were to be used specifically to promote SAF, they could help to effectively reduce CO2 emissions in aviation right at the source.