Here is how Singapore Airways is lowering its carbon footprint


With the global aviation industry producing 2.1% of the world’s CO2 emissions (according to the Air Transport Action Group), Singapore Airlines (SIA) has been taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint both in the air and on the ground. Key projects that the airline has been supporting with their Voluntary Carbon Offset Programme, include rainforest preservation in Indonesia, solar energy projects across India and cleaner cooking in Nepal. Now, with travel gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels, it is all the more important for airlines to take bigger steps toward eco-conscious practices. As part of SIA’s goal to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the airline has been piloting the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in Singapore, together with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Temasek.  

While SAF technology still has some way to go before it can be adopted on a wider basis, the SAF pilot is set to change that. Here’s all you need to know about sustainable aviation fuel technology and SIA’s involvement in driving greater adoption of SAF in Singapore. 

How is Sustainable Aviation Fuel made? 

The process of creating SAF starts with the collection of waste oils, such as animal fats and used cooking oil. They are then refined into neat SAF. For an aircraft to use the fuel, the neat SAF must first be blended with regular jet fuel to create the final SAF blend. The end product will be certified to meet conventional jet fuel standards. For the joint CAAS-SIA-Temasek pilot, 1,000 tonnes of neat SAF has been imported and blended with refined jet fuel at ExxonMobil’s Singapore facilities. The blended SAF was subsequently transported to Changi Airport for use on Singapore Airlines and Scoot flights.

Sustainable aviation fuel
After blending, the SAF is tested to ensure that it meets international standards for conventional jet fuel. Photo credit: ExxonMobil

Sustainable Aviation Fuel is a greener way to fly 

The most important benefit of SAF is that its use results in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by about 80% across its entire lifecycle, compared to traditional fossil jet fuel. This also supports the idea of a circular economy as it recycles waste products that would normally be discarded. Additionally, SAF has been certified to meet conventional jet fuel standards, and neither aircraft nor refuelling facilities need to be modified in order to handle the fuel – making it a viable solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

The purpose of the SAF pilot is to operationally validate SAF integration options at Changi Airport and identify the opportunities and challenges to increase adoption of SAF in Singapore.

Singapore Airlines Sustainable Aviation Fuel Key Personnel
From left to right: Mr Frederick Teo, Chief Executive Officer, GenZero (an investment platform wholly-owned by Temasek); Mr Leslie Lai, Key Account Manager, Renewable Aviation, Asia Pacific, Neste; Ms Lee Wen Fen, Senior Vice President Corporate Planning, Singapore Airlines; Ms Ong Shwu Hoon, Vice President, Asia Pacific, Fuels, ExxonMobil; and Mr Tan Kah Han, Chief Technology Officer/Senior Director (Unmanned Systems Group), Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, at the uplifting of blended sustainable aviation fuel onto Singapore Airlines flights on 7 July 2022.

Singapore Airlines’ SAF journey began over 10 years ago 

In 2011, the airline took its first step by joining the SAF User Group (SAFUG) to exchange knowledge, experiences and best practices on SAF. Six years later, it operated the world’s first green package flights from San Francisco to Singapore using sustainable biofuels, optimised flight operations and the fuel-efficient Airbus A350-900. A total of 12 such flights took off over three months, resulting in a reduction of 320 tonnes of CO2 emissions. In 2020, together with Stockholm airport operator, Swedavia, SAF was deployed for flights from Stockholm to Moscow via the airport fuel hydrant. This year-long partnership cut down CO2 emissions by up to 94 tonnes. 

Eco-conscious flying begins on the ground 

In addition to SAF, SIA is targeting multiple fronts in its commitment to sustainability to achieve its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Today, operating a young fleet of new generation aircraft is the most effective way for an airline to significantly reduce its emissions, and SIA has one of the youngest fleets in the world. In addition to operating a fleet of fuel-efficient aircraft, SIA has taken steps to reduce ground waste from operations, minimise usage of water and utilise energy from renewable resources. Passengers flying with SIA will also notice that meals on selected short-haul routes in Economy Class are served in eco-friendly packaging – and the in-flight magazine has also been replaced with the digital offering that you’re reading now!

Singapore Airlines Eco Friendly Inflight Meals
The packaging for the new short-haul Economy Class meal concept for flights less than 3.5 hours can be processed by an onsite eco-digester into pellets that can be used as a refuse-derived fuel (RDF) – reducing 60% of catering waste.

Be a part of this positive change 

In July 2022, CAAS, SIA, and Temasek announced the sale of 1,000 SAF credits for corporate customers and freight forwarders to reduce their carbon footprint from flights related to business travels and operations. SIA is also exploring mechanisms to introduce SAF credits to corporates together with Climate Impact X (CIX) and will share this accordingly. 

In the meantime, travellers can offset the carbon emitted from their upcoming flights by visiting Singapore Airlines’ Voluntary Carbon Offset Programme page to purchase carbon credits.

For more information on Singapore Airlines’ environmental efforts, click here. 



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