Scandinavian Airlines Wants You To Buy Its Fuel (For The Future)

by Chris Dong

While a considerable amount of environmental awareness and action is necessary, most people won’t consider a stop to flying entirely. However, that doesn’t mean the anti-flying movement isn’t real — and in some cases, valid.

KLM, for example, is proposing trains over flights for short distances within Europe. Germany is set to implement a tax on short flights (that will benefit and protect Lufthansa, but that’s a different story entirely).

The airline industry overall and the number of flights are only growing from here, with more aircraft taking to the skies. It’s amazing that flying is becoming more accessible to more people. However, that comes at an environment cost. Already, Ryanair is one of the top polluters in the entire European Union — yes, on par with coal producers.

Ryanair is one of the top EU polluters

The Future Of Sustainability For SAS

Clearly, the industry knows it needs to take action and airlines are slowly, but surely, doing it. Electrified planes aren’t terribly far away in the future. And biofuel is a hot topic amongst airline executives, like at SAS. Biofuel has the capability to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80 percent. While it is far too scarce (and most of all, expensive for airlines),  SAS wants to make biofuel a reality soon.

Why SAS Needs To (Particularly) Take Action 

While it is nice to think that airlines will do things out of the goodness of their hearts, most times they’re not. SAS has felt social pressure to make changes since flying in Sweden has become a sort of social faux pax. SAS is from a country where there’s now a word for “flying shame” and is the home of young environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

SAS’s mission is to reduce climate-damaging CO2 emissions by 30 percent by the year 2025, and biofuel is part of that strategy.

The SAS Biofuel Initiative

The airline has launched a program for customers to “purchase” biofuel corresponding to 20-minute blocks of flight time per passenger. Each 20-minute block costs $10 (or 10 euros). The purchase can be made at checkout or at anytime before the flight on the “My Bookings” section of SAS’s website.

For example, a two hour flight would cost $60 (six 20-minute blocks) in biofuel that you could purchase. While SAS will probably not fly with biofuel on your specific flight, the airline says that it will use those funds to replace fossil-based jet fuel across SAS’s operations in the future.

We are continuously developing more sustainable products and services, including the option to buy biofuel. We are now inviting our travelers to be part of the transition to a more sustainable way of traveling,” says Karl Sandlund, Executive Vice President Commercial, SAS.

The idea is to promote the use of biofuel everywhere — with more usage, more can be produced and the cheaper it becomes for airlines to buy. SAS is quick to say that they don’t profit from the biofuel purchases, but in a way, they indirectly are.

While I love the initiative that SAS is going for, a part of me also thinks it feels a bit strange to be indirectly funding one of the biggest operating expenses for an airline — fuel.

There’s definitely an environmental benefit of biofuel, but why should I as a customer be investing in that when the airline could be spending more of its own money on it? I suppose it’s not too much different than carbon offsetting, but offsetting feels like more of a direct impact on funding projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and less so on the airline’s bottom line.

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Jon Ben October 2, 2019 - 5:50 pm

This is a great start. Now they need to add an option called subsidize your neighbors fuel. This way they can lower the price of my ticket. I benifit, and they do too.

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