Airlines can enjoy SAF premium at Brussels Airport

All airlines departing from Brussels Airport in 2024 can benefit from a one-off premium to use Sustainable Aviation Fuels or SAFs. The SAF premium will be up to 200 000 euros per airline. According to Brussels Airport, that will cover up to 80% of the additional cost. Due to the high price of SAF, that alternative to kerosine is not getting off the ground for now.

For the premium, Brussels Airport is taking advantage of a two-million-euro subsidy awarded by the federal government to make the aviation sector more sustainable. The Belgian government approved the support program in 2022.

In effect, the Belgian government is matching the difference in price between SAF and traditional kerosine. SAF is made, for example, from deep-frying fat, biomass, or animal fats. The alternative currently represents less than 1% of aviation fuel consumption, and its price is at least two to three times higher than kerosine. SAF is now mixed with regular fuel.

Shortage of SAF?

“Increasing the use of SAF as aviation fuel is an important factor in the aviation sector’s ambition to reduce CO2 emissions to zero by 2050,” says Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport Company. The company aims for SAF to account for 5% of total kerosine use by airlines by 2026.

Federal Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) believes that all levers should be activated at the Belgian and European levels to accelerate the reduction of the aviation sector’s carbon footprint.

Nevertheless, as the newspaper Le Soir rightly points out, two observations must be made about the support measure. Airlines have been complaining for months about a shortage of SAF on the market.

To reach 5% of SAF by 2030 for all flights departing from EU airports, approximately 2,3 million tons of SAF would be required. In 2022, SAF production tripled to some 240 000 tons.

And the aid is only intended for Brussels Airport. I wonder if, for example, Ryanair, a significant customer of Charleroi Airport, or other airports will just let this pass. In the past, Ryanair has successfully legally challenged the billions in aid to Air France-KLM.

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