Alaska Airlines announced today its most significant sustainable aviation fuel commitment to date, with biofuel company Gevo. Under the new agreement, Gevo will deliver 37 million gallons of SAF per year for five years, starting in 2026.
Air transport has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years as a significant contributor to GHG emissions, accounting for an estimated 2% of global GHG emissions. SAF is seen by market participants as one of the key tools for the industry to address its emissions impact, as it generates 80% less lifecycle carbon emissions than conventional jet fuel. SAF is generally produced from sustainable resources, like waste oils and agricultural residues, or even from carbon captured from the air, rather than from fossil fuels.
Gevo produces fuel utilizing waste starch or sugars from field corn that has been used in the production of high protein animal feed. These waste products are fermented into alcohol and chemically converted to a renewable jet fuel through proprietary processes. Gevo and Alaska Airlines previously partnered in 2016 to demonstrate the use of the first cellulosic renewable jet fuel specified for use on a commercial airline flight
Dr. Patrick Gruber, Gevo CEO, said:
“Alaska was the first airline to fly on a Gevo experimental fuel that we made from the cellulosic fiber of wood waste, providing a pathway and proof that waste woods can be used to make sustainable aviation fuel. When Alaska Airlines receives fuel from one of our Net-Zero facilities, they will do so having been a part of some of our very important initial testing and delivery of sustainable aviation fuel.”
Alaska Airlines is a member of oneworld global alliance, which became the first global airline alliance to set a carbon neutrality target by 2050 in 2020. Gevo stated that its agreement with Alaska Airlines lays the groundwork for the airlines in the alliance to potentially purchase 200 million gallons of SAF per year from the company’s future commercial production operations.
Diana Birkett Rakow, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Sustainability at Alaska Airlines, said:
“Using sustainable aviation fuel is a significant part of Alaska’s five-part path to reach net zero carbon emissions, and alongside others in the oneworld alliance, we are committed to creating a more sustainable future for aviation. SAF is the most immediate path we have toward decarbonization of aviation, but we recognize there is significant work required ahead – including public policy action – to make SAF a viable, affordable option at scale.”
The announcement follows Alaska Airlines’ announcement of a series of sustainability commitments, including reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2040. In 2021, the airline also launched Alaska Star Ventures, its investment arm targeting technologies that will help advance the airline’s net zero emissions goal.
The agreement also marks the latest in a series of landmark SAF deals, including an announcement earlier this week of one of the largest-ever commercial SAF deals between Lufthansa Group and Shell.
Ann Ardizzone, Vice President of Supply Chain at Alaska Airlines, said:
“Alaska is proud to play a role in advancing this critical market for sustainable aviation fuels. Making SAF commercially viable at scale requires strong partners and action on all fronts. We appreciate the partnership of suppliers like Gevo in tackling this challenge.”