Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Action What are Sustainable Aviation Fuels ?

Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) are set to become the main lever for decarbonising air transport in the coming years. Produced from non-fossil fuel sources, the fuels purchased by Air France reduce CO2 emissions by at least 75% over the entire life cycle. They can be used today without any modification to aircraft and flight operations and are gradually replacing traditional fuel.


These new fuels are of two types:

  • 2nd generation biofuels, produced from biomass - in particular used oil or agricultural waste, which do not compete with food crops - available now
  • synthetic fuels - also called "power-to-liquid" or "e-fuels" produced from CO₂ captured in the atmosphere and hydrogen present in water - currently in the research and development phase

Air France only selects fuels whose sustainability is proven and certified by independent bodies such as the RSB or ISCC+.

image SAF

Emission reductions enabled by SAF

SAFs emit the same amount of CO during flight as kerosene. The reduction in emissions is achieved in the upstream phase, i.e., during the SAF production process. Take the example of SAF from used cooking oils: these oils are originally produced from plants, which absorb CO from the atmosphere through photosynthesis as they grow. These oils are used and then recycled to make SAF. By deducting the CO absorbed by the plants from the CO emissions generated by SAF, its overall carbon footprint is on average 80% lower than that of kerosene. This is known as life cycle carbon footprint analysis, taking into account all the activities involved in the manufacture, use, transport and recycling or disposal of a product.

Sustainable Development - PLANES

A decisive lever for decarbonisation

Air France sees these sustainable aviation fuels as a decisive lever for decarbonising air transport and has been a pioneer since 2011 to use this alternative fuel.

The production of these fuels is currently very limited due to the lack of a sufficiently developed industrial sector, and their price is 4 to 8 times higher than that of fossil fuel. This is why Air France is working alongside its industrial and academic partners to ensure the rapid emergence of production facilities. 

Airbus A 350

The gradual incorporation of SAF has a dual objective: to contribute to the decarbonisation of our operations, and to meet the growing demand from our customers, as purchasing SAF enables them to reduce the carbon footprint of their trips. As of 2022, all flights departing from France will incorporate on average the equivalent of 1% of sustainable aviation fuel. By 2030, we aim to incorporate at least 10% of this fuel on all our flights, to achieve 63% in 2050. In this way, we support the SAF incorporation objectives of French and European roadmaps, whilst at the same time aiming to exceed them.

In November 2022, Air France-KLM took an important first step by signing the first supply contracts with Nesté and DG Fuels for the delivery of 1.6 million tons of sustainable aviation fuels between 2023 and 2036, and then by signing a memorandum of understanding with Totalenergies for the delivery of 800,000 tons of SAF between 2023 and 2030. By committing to purchasing sustainable aviation fuels now, Air France-KLM is supporting the development of production channels.
By increasing demand, Air France-KLM intends to play a role in the development of the production chains needed to enable widespread adoption of SAF by 2030.

Key dates:

Air France operates its first flight using SAF.
Air France operates 78 flights between Paris-Orly - Toulouse and also Nice, powered with 10% sustainable aviation fuel. This long-term test phase confirmed that the use of these sustainable aviation fuels had no impact on aircraft, engines, or ground operations.
Air France, alongside the French Commission on Sustainable Development, initiated and participated in the ECV (Engagement for Green Growth) public-private partnership to study the conditions for the successful emergence of French and European SAF industries, with Airbus, Total, Safran, Suez and 3 French Ministries. Following the ECV, Air France took part in 6 French sustainable aviation fuel production programmes via a Call for Expression of Interest (CEI). Air France KLM Martinair Cargo launched the first
Air France-KLM launched the Corporate SAF programme, allowing Corporate Customers to contribute financially to SAF supply and use beyond the regulatory incorporation. Air France operated its first long-haul flight using sustainable aviation fuel produced in France, and then operated a flight from Nice to Paris with 30% SAF.
Introduction of a SAF contribution and launch of a SAF voluntary financing scheme for our individual customers
Air France aims to incorporate at least 10% SAF on all its flights.
Air France aims to incorporate 63% SAF on all its flights.