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Inside Air France-KLM’s Fleet and Sustainability Strategy

  • Airlines
  • 6 min read
Air France and KLM Invest Billions in Sustainable Aviation: Purchase 50 New Airbus A350 Aircraft and Back SAF Manufacturer

Air France-KLM, one of the leading airline groups in the industry, is committed to sustainability. In addition to their investment in Scandinavian Airlines SAS, the aviation giant has set ambitious targets to replace 64% of their aircraft fleet by 2028, with the aim of reducing carbon emissions.

To make substantial progress towards their goal, Air France-KLM placed an order for 50 new Airbus A350 aircraft. Furthermore, the company is determined to achieve a remarkable milestone of using 10% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) by 2030. To accomplish this, the company is making additional investments in sustainable aviation fuel through DG Fuels. The ultimate objective is to enhance the environmental footprint of their operations and pave the way for a more sustainable future in the aviation industry.

Air France-KLM Journey of Change

“The industry is now undergoing an extensive journey of change with new technology and fuel that enables a sustainable transition. Already in a few years we will see electric aircraft on shorter distances. This is something that will not be possible for long-haul flights, where one must instead reduce emissions by investing in more fuel-efficient aircraft. That is exactly what we are doing now,” says Maria Hagelberg, responsible for sustainability issues for KLM in Northern Europe.

The new A350 aircraft will replace the current long-haul fleet and mark a significant milestone in the company’s commitment to sustainability. Air France-KLM’s goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent per passenger kilometer by 2030, compared to 2019. One of the key reasons why the new aircraft are more environmentally friendly is because they use 25 percent less fuel. This is due in part to lighter materials used to manufacture the aircraft, including 53 percent composite and 14 percent titanium.

As part of their efforts to combat emissions, Air France and KLM recognize the importance of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). In fact, in 2022, Air France and KLM became the world’s largest users of SAF. The airlines consumed 17 percent of the sustainable jet fuel globally, compared to a consumption of only three percent of the world’s total jet fuel.

SAF Investment In DG Fuels

To further support the growth of SAF production and maintain its industry leadership, the airlines have made a groundbreaking financial investment in SAF producer, DG Fuels. This marks the first time Air France and KLM have invested in a manufacturer of sustainable aviation fuel. The partnership with DG Fuels will enable Air France-KLM to continue driving innovation and contribute to a more sustainable future for aviation.

“In order to achieve our climate goals and lead the development towards a sustainable aviation industry, investments in new technology and sustainable fuels are essential. We think long-term and have acquired an option to buy up to 75,000 tonnes of SAF per year from 2029,” says Hagelberg.

Air France-KLM Will Purchase 600,000 Tons of SAF

  • Air France-KLM has invested in DG Fuels to support the completion of a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) plant in Louisiana.
  • The investment includes an option for Air France-KLM to purchase up to 25 million gallons / 75,000 tons of SAF annually, starting in 2029.
  • This investment is in addition to the long-term contract between Air France-KLM and DG Fuels for SAF supply.
  • By making this investment and securing the offtake option, Air France-KLM is taking a significant step towards achieving its goal of incorporating 10% SAF by 2030.

Air France-KLM has agreed to purchase 600,000 tons of SAF from DG Fuels between 2027 and 2036. Recently, Air France invested $4.7 million in DG Fuels, marking its first investment in the SAF producer. This investment aims to support the development of DG Fuels’ sustainable aviation fuel plant located in Louisiana. Additionally, Air France-KLM has acquired an option to purchase up to 75,000 tons of SAF per year from DG Fuels starting in 2029. The group is committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by 30% per passenger/km by 2030 compared to 2019. This goal includes the incorporation of a minimum of 10% SAF by 2030, in addition to fleet renewal and eco-piloting efforts.

DG Fuels: An Efficient and Low-cost Provider of Sustainable Aviation Fuel

DG Fuels is a leading provider of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) that utilizes a highly efficient carbon conversion process. This process allows DG Fuels to maximize the production of SAF from a fixed amount of biomass, resulting in attractive unit production costs. As a result, DG Fuels is able to offer competitive prices to airlines and other SAF customers while maintaining sustained profitability. Importantly, the SAF produced by DG Fuels does not compete with global food supplies. Furthermore, DG Fuels demonstrates its commitment to renewable power by actively supporting wind, solar, and other zero carbon power sources.

Air France-KLM Sustainability Trajectory

Air France-KLM is dedicated to environmental and social issues, which are encompassed by its overarching strategy called “Destination Sustainability.” This strategy is built upon two key pillars: “people & culture” and “environment.”

Under the “people & culture” pillar, Air France-KLM prioritizes socially responsible practices. It invests in initiatives to reduce noise pollution, foster a safe and inclusive workplace, and support local communities.

In terms of the “environment” pillar, Air France-KLM has developed a comprehensive decarbonization strategy. It aims to reducing its emissions per passenger/kilometer by 30% by 2030, compared to 2019. To achieve this target, the airline group is actively implementing various decarbonization measures:

  1. Fleet Renewal: Air France-KLM is replacing older aircraft with new-generation models such as Airbus A220s, Airbus A350s, and Boeing 787s. These aircraft are significantly more fuel-efficient, emitting up to 25% less CO2 and producing an average noise reduction of 33%. By 2028, modern aircraft will comprise 64% of the Air France-KLM fleet. This represents a substantial annual investment of two billion euros.
  2. Increased SAF Usage: The airline group is also prioritizing the use of sustainable aviation fuel. SAF can reduce CO2 emissions by at least 75% throughout its life cycle. Importantly, SAF does not compete with the food chain. By 2030, Air France-KLM aims to incorporate at least 10% SAF on all flights. The long-term goal is to reach 63% SAF by 2050.
  3. Operational Measures: Air France-KLM is implementing various operational initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions, including eco-piloting measures and ground operations improvements. These efforts, facilitated by trained crews and ground staff, result in an average emission reduction of 4 to 5%.

Air France-KLM’s sustainability practices contribute to its ongoing journey towards a more sustainable future.

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