LONDON – JUNE 29, 2022 – With one million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) available at launch, American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT), the world’s leading B2B travel platform, and Shell Aviation, today urged the private sector to help decarbonize air travel by joining a landmark SAF pilot program. Companies that sign up have access to Avelia, one of the world’s first blockchain-powered digital SAF* book-and-claim** solutions for business travel.
The SAF will be certified in line with the regulatory standards set within the country of delivery. Purchase commitments by pioneering corporations including Accenture, Amex GBT, Aon and Shell, are all supporting market development and driving investment to accelerate global supply. Aon is the first Amex GBT pilot customer to join the program. Discussions are in advanced stages with several other global and multinational customers and airlines.
The business travel community is highly influential and concentrated, compared to leisure travel. While representing a relatively smaller portion of aviation, business travel can play a large role in leading the transition towards net-zero aviation. Businesses and organizations joining this pilot will contribute to reducing emissions and driving wider adoption of SAF.
How the Amex GBT and Shell SAF pilot program works:
- The pilot program is operated on Avelia, the newly launched blockchain-powered book-and-claim platform developed by Shell and Accenture, with the support of the Energy Web Foundation (EWF).
- Avelia taps into Amex GBT’s global client base to aggregate global demand for SAF.
- Corporations reduce emissions associated with business travel by committing to purchase SAF environmental attributes and gaining access to SAF.
- Airlines will be identified for co-investment opportunities and will benefit from access to SAF at more affordable prices because the cost is shared across the aviation value chain.
- Shell Aviation will supply SAF into the aviation fuel network. Book-and-claim enables travelers to invest in and benefit from SAF, even if SAF is not available at their departure airport. SAF will instead be fed into another aircraft in an airport where it is available.
- Non-governmental organizations, including the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, the Smart Freight Centre, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Transportation & Logistics SAF Guidelines , will observe and be engaged.
- The Avelia platform offers a solution that is inclusive and neutral with respect to airlines, technology production pathways, fuels and feedstocks.
Amex GBT CEO Paul Abbott said: “This pilot is an important foundational step on our journey towards a net-zero world by 2050. As more businesses and organizations like Aon join this SAF pilot program, market signals will grow stronger, making SAF more cost-competitive with conventional jet fuel.”
Jan Toschka, President, Shell Aviation, said: “SAF is the only viable option for reducing aviation emissions in the near-to medium-term. Lower or zero carbon technologies such as hydrogen and electric flight are decades away from having impact at scale, while SAF can be used immediately without the need for a fundamental change in infrastructure or aircraft design.”
James Platt, Aon’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “We believe there is an opportunity to chart a better path for both our firm and society to become more resilient and sustainable. As we help our clients make better decisions as they navigate the volatility and risk in managing climate transition, we are also making bold moves to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. We are proud to be among the first to join this initiative in piloting a solution for SAF that will help Aon and others meet their emissions reduction targets and sustainability commitments.”
Suzanne Neufang, CEO, Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), said: “Transformative sustainability initiatives and collaboration will help create a better future for our planet and for business travel. According to GBTA’s State of Sustainability Report published during Earth Month, 89% of business travel respondents say sustainability is a major priority for their company. The business travel community is simultaneously demanding and driving environmental progress, with pioneering pilots such as this at the forefront.”
To learn more about Avelia, please visit aveliasolutions.com
Notes to editors:
- Intended to complement and work alongside airlines’ current corporate SAF programmes, Avelia aims to share the costs and benefits of SAF across the sector. Airlines will gain access to the buying capacity of businesses willing to share SAF’s ongoing price premium – drawing from Amex GBT’s 19,000 customers from 140 countries, including thousands of small to medium sized businesses and 40 of the top 100 companies by travel spend – and corporates looking to reduce emissions from their business travel will have access to SAF.
- *Sustainable aviation fuel can be made from plant or animal material. Research and development is also underway to find ways to produce industrial quantities of SAF synthetically, using hydrogen obtained from low-emission sources and carbon dioxide captured from other industrial processes or the air.
- SAF offers significant potential for decarbonisation without the need to modify existing infrastructure – when used neat it can reduce lifecycle emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional jet fuel.
- Currently SAF is 2 to 8 times more expensive than jet fuel. With fuel accounting for a significant share of airline costs and in the low margin environment, airlines struggle to absorb the extra cost of decarbonisation.
- Business travel is uniquely positioned to play a key role in creating a stronger demand and helping de-risk investment in production and new SAF technologies. Business travel forms a more concentrated segment than leisure passengers and the average corporate travel booking produces 4.3 times more revenue than a typical leisure booking.
- **Book-and-claim allows travelers to pay for SAF, and claim the benefits, even if SAF is not available at their departure airport. SAF will instead be fed into another aircraft in an airport where available.
- Once book-and-claim is approved by industry bodies as an acceptable form of emissions reduction, Avelia could enable airlines and companies who choose SAF to authenticate, record and report the associated emissions reduction benefits of SAF towards their voluntary ESG reporting, regardless of where in the world the SAF is used to fuel a flight.
- Avelia uses a blockchain-powered book-and-claim method that follows the Smart Freight Centre and MIT’s Center for Transportation & Logistics SAF Guidelines.
- Scalable co-investment models, which allow companies to co-fund the cost of SAF, are crucial to significantly scale SAF supply and use. An industry-accepted carbon accounting mechanism, like book-and-claim, is key for such programmes to credibly grow. Avelia’s data security and credibility are key to reaching scientific and market consensus for ways to allocate SAF’s environmental attributes and help accelerate the decarbonisation of aviation.
 Smart Freight Centre and MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, The Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Greenhouse Gas Emission Accounting and Insetting Guidelines
About American Express Global Business Travel
American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) is the world’s leading B2B travel platform, providing software and services to manage travel, expenses, and meetings and events for companies of all sizes. We have built the most valuable marketplace in B2B travel to deliver unrivalled choice, value, and experiences. With travel professionals in more than 140 countries, our customers and travelers enjoy the powerful backing of American Express Global Business Travel.
Sustainability at American Express Global Business Travel
We are a purpose-drive company with Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) core to our business. Our purpose is to power economic, social, and environmental progress – and to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Our leadership on sustainability includes the following proof points:
- Committed to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), pursuing a defined pathway for reducing GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions in accordance with climate science.
- Signed the World Economic Forum Clean Skies for Tomorrow ambition statement to achieve 10% SAF by 2030.
- Built a marketplace for green business travel with sustainability-focused products and services including tools to track and report, influence choice, procure green, invest in carbon offsets and insets.