Three of the world’s most influential companies in the world of air travel – one a corporate travel giant, one a fuel and energy provider, and one Fortune 500 information technology services company, have come together to help further aviation sustainability. At the World Air Transport Summit (WATS) in Doha, Qatar, taking place on June 19 and 20, Amex GBT, Shell, and Accenture, jointly announced the launch of their blockchain-based book-and-claim system to grow the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) across the globe.
The program is named Avelia, and it is one of the world’s first blockchain-powered digital SAF book-and-claim solutions for business travel. It is developed by Shell and Accenture, with the support of the Energy Web Foundation (EWF). It will feature Amex GBT’s travel management services to aggregate global business demand for SAF. The intention is that this will stimulate demand and, therefore, supply, lowering costs and accelerating the industry’s pathway towards net-zero emissions.
Jan Toschka, President of Shell Aviation, said,
“SAF is a key enabler of decarbonisation in the aviation industry, and it’s available today. However, it’s currently scarce and costs more than conventional jet fuel. Avelia will help trigger demand for SAF at scale, providing confidence to suppliers like us to further increase investment in production, and in turn helping to lower the price point for these fuels.”
Shell opened a facility for green hydrogen and sustainable aviation fuel in Germany last year. Photo: Getty Images
Shell taking an initial 100,000 gallons
The three companies themselves are the first customers of the Avelia platform. Shell has set a target of reducing its corporate travel CO2 emissions by 45% by using SAF through 2030. It has committed to purchasing the environmental attributes equivalent to 100,000 gallons of SAF over the pilot phase of the program, increasing this as more becomes available.
The program is currently offering around one million gallons of SAF, which is enough to power close to 15,000 individual business traveler transatlantic flights from London to New York. Paul Abbot, Chief Executive Officer of Amex GBT, said,
“A truly viable route to decarbonising air travel is now open for business. We’re calling on all companies to join us and share the costs and benefits of SAF across the travel and aviation sectors. Airlines will gain access to the buying capacity of businesses, drawing from Amex GBT’s 19,000 customers around the world.”
Corporate customers will increasingly be looking to cut business travel emissions to meet ESG targets. Photo: Getty Images
The importance of corporate ESG targets for airlines
Corporate travel is increasingly important in driving sustainable change across the airline industry. Companies have their own ESG targets to meet. Auditors and investors will more and more hold them accountable as frameworks for measuring CO2 emissions, and other climate impacts become increasingly reliable. Rachel Barton, Europe Strategy Lead, Accenture, said,
“Our vision for the Avelia platform is to bring together airlines, corporates, cargo players, and SAF suppliers in a trusted ecosystem that no individual company could build or access on its own. Blockchain technology will be piloted to help ensure trust via data integrity, validate proof of ownership, and enable transparent tracking of the environmental benefits of SAF for customers.”
For airlines, business travel is one of the most significant sources of revenue. If they do not wish to lose most of their corporate clients to digital meeting platforms, they must show that companies can lower their Scope 3 emissions by traveling with them. However, not all airlines have access to SAF where they operate. As such, book-and-claim could play an increasingly more prominent role alongside mass balance sourcing systems in supporting the industry as it aims to scale product and lower costs. Not to be overly dramatic, but the future of the industry (and the planet) depends on it.