Etihad to operate zero emissions flight to Egypt's COP 27


Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the UAE, is set to operate the first NetZero flight, which will carry delegates to the COP27 conference in Egypt.

The airline has partnered with World Energy, a carbon-net-zero solutions provider to operate the flight powered entirely by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) through a book-and-claim system.

Etihad will operate its Washington Dulles to Abu Dhabi service, routed via COP27 venue Sharm-El-Sheik to demonstrate the only feasible path to net-zero commercial aviation using current technology, while showcasing the challenges and opportunities of SAF.

Enabling delegates to travel 10,000 km emission-free to COP27, Etihad will buy (or book) SAF for the flight.

However, the service will use conventional Jet-A1 fuel, and the physical SAF that the airline has purchased will be delivered into the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) fuel system and used on flights by other airlines out of that airport.

LAX has the infrastructure in place to take delivery of and distribute World Energy’s SAF.

This is known as a Book & Claim system and is the preferred model for SAF use and distribution advocated for by the aviation and energy industries as a stopgap solution to make SAF available for global aviation until infrastructure and production capacity can catch up.

Guests onboard the flight will not be charged any extra premium for their fare but preparing a NetZero flight without charging each passenger and cargo shipment a surcharge is a challenge given that the cost to produce SAF is four-times higher than JetA1.

The extra costs will be mitigated by several sources, including government subsidies reducing the SAF cost by 50 per cent, the Corporate Conscious Choice programme contributing 28 per cent, and the Etihad Guest Raffle providing 22 per cent.

A final 10 per cent to partially offset additional operational and handling costs will be generated by tokenizing and trading CO2e avoidance credits, possible due to this being the first transatlantic flight actively managing non-CO2 effects through contrail avoidance prediction and flight planning.

The NetZero flight will be the latest in a series of “EcoFlight” tests since Etihad launched its Greenliner programme in 2020, each one testing and proving a series of concepts.

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