Top U.S. Airlines Join Forces with Major Corporate Customers in Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance (Saba)
SABA welcomes Amazon Air, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, and United Airlines and opens membership opportunities to airlines, companies, and non-profit organizations
November 10, 2021
During the United Nations climate talks in Glasgow, the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance (SABA) announced the addition of an Aviators Group founded by Amazon Air, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, and United Airlines in support of its mission to drive investment in high-integrity sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and accelerate the transition to net zero emissions air transport.
A joint initiative of RMI and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), SABA was launched in April 2021 to bring together aviation customers committed to reducing their air transport emissions through investment in high-integrity SAF. The new Aviators Group enables SABA to send an even stronger demand signal to drive greater SAF production, price reduction and technological innovation.
The announcement was revealed during a panel discussion hosted by SABA at the U.S. Center Pavillion at COP 26 in Glasgow, which included opening remarks by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg where he lauded the group’s efforts and challenged SABA to accelerate procurement activity and come to COP 27 with significant new SAF offtake agreements.
“We are excited to partner with the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance to launch a new Aviators Group to promote the development of sustainable aviation fuel solutions,” said Sarah Rhoads, vice president of Amazon Global Air. “We’re already reducing carbon across our air network, from our ground operations—where we were the first to use electric main deck loaders in North America—to our fleet and network design. By working together with other companies, we are demonstrating there is strong and growing demand for the rapid deployment of cost-effective sustainable aviation fuels, which will help Amazon meet our commitment to reach net-zero carbon by 2040.”
“Sustainable aviation fuels are critical to decarbonizing aviation and to Alaska’s path to reach net zero by 2040,” said Ben Minicucci, CEO of Alaska Airlines. “But production and supply are not yet where our industry needs them to be. That’s why it’s critical we work together to build a robust market for SAF. We recently partnered with fellow SABA member Microsoft to use SAF to decarbonize their West Coast business travel, and today we are excited to join SABA, Amazon Air and others to create this new airline group focused on tangible steps, at scale, to accelerate progress and increase availability for all.”
In addition to inaugurating the new founding Aviators Group members, SABA also announced the addition of Meta (formerly the Facebook company) into its founding customers group. Meta joins SABA’s Customers Group, which includes Bank of America, Boeing, Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte, JPMorgan Chase, McKinsey & Company, Microsoft, Netflix and Salesforce.
“As part of our commitment to reach net zero emissions across our value chain, we are proud to join SABA and contribute to a roadmap for sustainable aviation,” said Edward Palmieri, Director of Global Sustainability, Meta. “Supporting efforts to drive market demand for sustainable aviation fuel is important to our company because it’s important to our employees—and it is a vital part of our goal to reach net zero emissions.”
EDF and RMI also unveiled SABA’s formal membership structure at the event, opening membership opportunities to public and private organizations worldwide.
“Addressing aviation emissions is a sizable and challenging hurdle in the decarbonization journey for many organizations. The Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance was created to give aviation customers an avenue to reduce their emissions by investing in high-quality sustainable aviation fuels. We’re eager to have climate-leading organizations join us in this effort,” said Fred Krupp, President of Environmental Defense Fund.
“With SABA membership comes transparency, accountability, and confidence to prove that members are living up to their climate commitments,” said Bryan Fisher, Managing Director at RMI’s Climate-Aligned Industries program.
Nearly 2.5% of today’s emissions are a result of global air travel – a figure that is projected to rise rapidly in coming years, especially as jet fuel demand is expected to reach double pre-pandemic levels by 2050. High-integrity SAF available today has the potential to dramatically reduce the carbon intensity of flying, but currently represents less than 0.1% of global aviation fuel due to insufficient, disaggregated demand and cost barriers.
“While SAF is well-proven to meaningfully reduce air travel emissions, it has long suffered from supply and cost challenges that keep overall usage low. JetBlue has been scaling up the use of SAF across our operation, but a broader universe of suppliers and backers is needed to accelerate aviation’s ability to reach commercial SAF production at scale – a critical step to advance toward net zero,” said Robin Hayes, Chief Executive Officer, JetBlue. “We are excited to join SABA as a founding member of the Aviators Group to partner, advise, and learn from leading SAF experts RMI and EDF, tackling head-on key challenges that will hopefully enable rapid scale-up of a SAF industry.”
“Making sustainable travel a reality will require extensive investment in low-carbon technologies such as sustainable aviation fuel by our entire industry, and through SABA we can work collaboratively with our customers on real solutions to address climate change,” said United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby. “At United, we’ve invested in more than twice the publicly announced SAF commitments as all the world’s other airlines combined – and we encourage others in the industry to join us by taking action that will result in lasting change.”
Unlike fossil jet fuel, SAF is produced from renewable sources or waste feedstocks. Working with a wide set of stakeholders including academic experts, fuel producers, and airlines, SABA is currently developing
a SAF Sustainability Framework that will ensure SAF contributes to credible emissions reductions and does not drive unintended environmental or social consequences.
SABA members are also united behind the need for a rigorous, transparent system for tracking, booking and claiming the environmental attributes of high-integrity SAF. With this system, companies will be able to make progress toward achieving their climate commitments while advancing high-integrity SAF production to scale its future use and achieve widespread aviation emissions reductions.
To apply for SABA membership, interested parties can visit to www.FlySABA.org.
Jennifer Andreassen Burke
About Environmental Defense Fund
One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 2.5 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund.
RMI is an independent nonprofit founded in 1982 that transforms global energy systems through market-driven solutions to align with a 1.5°C future and secure a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon future for all. We work in the world’s most critical geographies and engage businesses, policymakers, communities, and NGOs to identify and scale energy system interventions that will cut greenhouse gas emissions at least 50 percent by 2030. RMI has offices in Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; Oakland, California; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing. More information on RMI can be found at www.rmi.org or follow us on Twitter @RockyMtnInst.