Amex GBT urges companies to join landmark SAF program

Interior view of Frankfurt Airport
Photo Credit: Piotr Bozyk/AviationSource

LONDON – With one million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) available at launch, American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT), the world’s leading B2B travel platform, and Shell Aviation, today urged the private sector to help decarbonize air travel by joining a landmark SAF pilot program.

Companies that sign up have access to Avelia, one of the world’s first blockchain-powered digital SAF book-and-claim solutions for business travel.

The SAF will be certified in line with the regulatory standards set within the country of delivery. Purchase commitments by pioneering corporations including Accenture, Amex GBT, Aon and Shell, are all supporting market development and driving investment to accelerate global supply.

We believe there is an opportunity to chart a better path for both our firm and society to become more resilient and sustainable. As we help our clients make better decisions as they navigate the volatility and risk in managing climate transition, we are also making bold moves to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. We are proud to be among the first to join this initiative in piloting a solution for SAF that will help Aon and others meet their emissions reduction targets and sustainability commitments.

James Platt, Aon’s Chief Operating Officer.

Aon is the first Amex GBT pilot customer to join the program. Discussions are in advanced stages with several other global and multinational customers and airlines.

This pilot is an important foundational step on our journey towards a net-zero world by 2050. As more businesses and organizations like Aon join this SAF pilot program, market signals will grow stronger, making SAF more cost-competitive with conventional jet fuel

said Paul Abbott, Amex GBT CEO.

The business travel community is highly influential and concentrated, compared to leisure travel. While representing a relatively smaller portion of aviation, business travel can play a large role in leading the transition towards net-zero aviation.

Businesses and organizations joining this pilot will contribute to reducing emissions and driving wider adoption of SAF.

SAF is the only viable option for reducing aviation emissions in the near-to medium-term. Lower or zero carbon technologies such as hydrogen and electric flight are decades away from having impact at scale, while SAF can be used immediately without the need for a fundamental change in infrastructure or aircraft design

said Jan Toschka, President, Shell Aviation.

Key role of business travel

While representing a relatively smaller portion of aviation, business travel can play a large role in leading the transition towards net-zero aviation. It must also help de-risk investment in production and new SAF technologies. Business travel forms a more concentrated segment than leisure passengers.

The average corporate travel booking produces 4.3 times more revenue than a typical leisure booking. So that’s why businesses and organisations joining this pilot will contribute to reducing emissions and driving wider adoption of SAF.

How the Amex GBT and Shell SAF pilot program works

The pilot program is operated on Avelia, the newly launched blockchain-powered book-and-claim platform developed by Shell and Accenture, with the support of the Energy Web Foundation (EWF). Avelia taps into Amex GBT’s global client base to aggregate global demand for SAF.

Corporations can reduce emissions associated with business travel by committing to purchase SAF environmental attributes and gaining access to SAF.

Airlines will be identified for co-investment opportunities and will benefit from access to SAF. But it must be done with more affordable prices because the cost is shared across the aviation value chain.

Shell Aviation will supply SAF into the aviation fuel network. Book-and-claim enables travelers to invest in and benefit from SAF, even if SAF is not available at their departure airport. SAF will instead be fed into another aircraft in an airport where it is available.

Non-governmental organizations, including the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, the Smart Freight Centre, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Transportation & Logistics SAF Guidelines , will observe and be engaged.

It’s worth to add that the Avelia platform offers a solution that is inclusive and neutral with respect to airlines, technology production pathways, fuels and feedstocks.

SAF fuel

Sustainable aviation fuel can be made from plant or animal material. Research and development is also underway to find ways to produce industrial quantities of SAF synthetically.

It can be done by using hydrogen obtained from low-emission sources and carbon dioxide captured from other industrial processes or the air.

SAF offers significant potential for decarbonisation without the need to modify existing infrastructure – when used neat it can reduce lifecycle emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional jet fuel.

Currently SAF is 2 to 8 times more expensive than jet fuel. With fuel accounting for a significant share of airline costs and in the low margin environment, airlines struggle to absorb the extra cost of decarbonisation.

About Amex GBT

American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) is the world’s leading B2B travel platform, providing software and services to manage travel, expenses, and meetings and events for companies of all sizes.

We have built the most valuable marketplace in B2B travel to deliver unrivalled choice, value, and experiences. With travel professionals in more than 140 countries, our customers and travelers enjoy the powerful backing of American Express Global Business Travel.

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