IATA calls on S. Africa to explore domestic SAF production

IATA has called on South Africa to accelerate SAF production and meet domestic as well as regional demand.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on South Africa to accelerate SAF production by mobilising its experience, resources, and infrastructure.

“South Africa has vast potential to become a leading SAF producer in the region. And there is a waiting market for SAF as airlines work to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 … Across agriculture, energy, and transportation, new jobs and industries are waiting to be created that would not only help fight poverty but also contribute to greater energy independence,” said Marie Owens Thomsen, IATA’s senior vice president for sustainability and chief economist.

The call from IATA came on the sidelines of IATA Wings of Change Focus Africa conference held in Johannesburg.

The IATA said that the call on South Africa to accelerate SAF production is due to the country’s immense potential to become major SAF player due to a confluence of advantages.

Firstly, the country boasts an abundance of suitable feedstocks for SAF production including low-carbon byproducts from sugarcane production and biomass from invasive alien plants. The country also has the industrial capacity to refine these feedstocks into SAF. Meanwhile, the country has a long history of synthetic fuel production, particularly using the Fischer-Tropsch method which positions it for the transition to SAF production.

Finally, the IATA said that South Africa’s strategic geographic location adds another layer of advantage. Major airports as key hubs for connecting flights both within Africa and to other parts of the world making South Africa an ideal location for not only producing SAF but also exporting it to meet global demand for clean aviation fuel,

To unlock South Africa’s potential as a leader in SAF production, IATA recommends a four-pronged government strategy. Firstly, it emphasises leveraging existing industrial infrastructure for faster development and lower costs. Secondly, it highlights the importance of collaboration between government, private sector, and international partners to combine resources and expertise. The plan also calls for government support to drive down production costs and increase SAF diversity. This would involve incentives for research and development in SAF technologies.

Finally, the strategy recognises the need for investment in new infrastructure, such as biorefineries and green hydrogen facilities, to support large-scale SAF production.

IATA calls on Spain to promote SAF production

Earlier this week, the IATA also welcomed the approval of a non-binding legislative proposal tabled by the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge Commission to the Spanish government to promote the production of SAF in Spain.

“The Ecological Commission’s comprehensive proposal for greater state support for SAF is a big step in the right direction. It is particularly encouraging that this proposal has support across the political spectrum. Recognising the importance of aviation, the political consensus is to decarbonise flying without restricting people’s access to air travel. It is now critical for the Spanish government to turn this proposal into law,” said Rafael Schvartzman, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Europe.

The commission recommended the central government in Spain to provide incentives for SAF production; fund R&D for new SAF sources; establish public-private partnerships for SAF, and develop strategies for access to waste and bio-material for SAF feedstock.