Boeing says Brazil could be top sustainable aviation fuel player

By Gabriel Araujo

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil has the potential to become one of the major global players in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), a Boeing executive said on Tuesday, as the sector attempts to meet its ambitious goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The target agreed within the International Air Transport Association (IATA) representing airlines will largely depend on the development and increased production of SAF, which is made from renewable resources such as vegetable oils or waste.

The South American country, one of the world’s largest agricultural producers, is already a global leader in biofuels such as ethanol, made from sugarcane or corn, and soyoil-derived biodiesel.

“Brazil has the technical capacity, qualified workforce and raw material to post the concrete results and impacts needed for us to solve together this global challenge of how to decarbonize aviation,” Boeing’s Latin America and the Caribbean head, Landon Loomis, told a forum hosted by the company in Sao Paulo.

“Boeing already is one of the world’s largest buyers of sustainable aviation fuel,” he noted.

While radical technological change is deemed key to cutting aviation emissions, the sector’s main focus has been on fuels that can be used in existing jet engines, such as plant or waste-based SAF and synthetic alternatives.

Securing enough SAF supply is the industry’s biggest challenge in its push for net-zero emissions, amid high costs and slow production growth.

IATA estimates the use of SAF could account for 65% of the industry’s efforts to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker in May suggested the sector would not be able to achieve the emissions target because of inadequate SAF supplies.

Brazilian airline Gol said it sees SAF supply as an urgent matter.

“If we don’t start right now, we will not get there,” Gol’s Operations Control Center director Eduardo Calderon told the event on Tuesday, noting that SAF costs are currently three times higher than those of fossil fuels.

“The world is already lagging behind. If we don’t start that SAF process very soon, we won’t reach this ambitious 2050 goal.”

(Reporting by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Jamie Freed)