Sustainable Aviation Fuel

What is Sustainable Aviation Fuel?

Sustainable Aviation Fuel is one of the keys to reducing our carbon footprint, but it is not yet available on a large scale. Sustainable Aviation Fuel, or SAF, is a jet fuel made from renewable sources, such as used cooking oil, and is a sustainable substitute for fossil fuel. It blends perfectly with conventional jet fuel and can be used in the engines of all aircraft types, without impacting on existing processes or operations. SAF proactively reduces emissions by up to 85% compared to fossil fuel and contributes to a circular economy. Find out more in the SAF video. Information about our other initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint can be found here.

10 Frequently Asked Questions

What is SAF?

SAF stands for “Sustainable Aviation Fuel” and is a cleaner substitute for conventional jet fuel. This alternative fuel represents a solution that has been developed to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment.

Why do we need SAF for aviation?

The aviation sector currently accounts for 2 to 3% of global CO2 emissions produced by human activity. SAF represents an alternative fuel for aviation and is currently the only viable drop-in alternative to fossil liquid fuels for powering commercial aircraft.

Will SAF achieve carbon neutral flight?

The SAF purchased by Air France KLM Martinair Cargo reduces CO2 emissions by up to 85%, when compared to conventional jet fuel. The reduction occurs throughout the entire lifecycle of producing and using sustainable aviation fuel compared to that of fossil fuel.

How is SAF produced?

Six production pathways for SAF have been certified by the American Society for Testing of Materials (ASTM) for use in commercial aviation. The most common production pathway is Hydrotreated Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA) where feedstocks (e.g. vegetable oils, waste oils, used cooking oil or fats) are deoxygenated and then hydroprocessed to produce a pure hydrocarbon fuel blending component.

What makes SAF “sustainable”?

SAF must meet stringent sustainability criteria to qualify as “sustainable” aviation fuel: substantial reduction in CO2 emissions, materials whose use would not have a negative impact on biodiversity or be in competition with needed food production. The sustainability of the chain is ensured through certification by the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification Plus (ISCC+) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB).

What does one litre of sustainable aviation fuel cost in comparison with fossil fuel?

SAF currently costs two to three times as much as fossil fuel.

Do you need new aircraft to operate flight with SAF?

SAF is a drop-in fuel, meaning that no changes are required in aircraft or engine fuel systems, distribution infrastructure or storage facility.

Is it safe to fly on SAF?

SAF almost has identical chemical and physical characteristics as conventional jet fuel. They are safely mixed to varying degrees but no more than 50% by volume (according to current standards) to meet the same quality and safety requirements.

Why do we still use fossil jet fuel instead of SAF?

SAF has a relatively short history – the world´s first commercial flight on SAF was operated by KLM in 2011, followed by Air France in the same year – and is not yet produced on a large scale. So far, there is only a couple of facilities in the world that produces SAF on a constant basis and SAF is still very expensive. This is why KLM, together with a few partners, is building a fully SAF-dedicated plant to produce its own SAF, scheduled to open in 2023 in the north of the Netherlands. In France, plans are in progress to build several production plants in the coming years.

What are the next steps for Air France KLM Martinair Cargo?

Our objective today is to raise awareness within our partners, customers and towards the general public as well, to increase the use of SAF through our daily operations. Several challenges must be addressed to successfully use SAF in our future operations, such as reducing production costs, ensuring the adequate supply of feedstocks, optimising processes in blending locations and airports, improving policy framework to support SAF and developing globally-recognised and harmonized standards.

How does Sustainable Aviation Fuel work ?

Our SAF partnership programme

The Cargo SAF Programme makes it possible for shippers and forwarders to power a share of their flights using SAF. Customers can choose their own level of engagement, while we make sure that the investment will be used entirely to source SAF. When investing in SAF, our customers receive a third-party audited report linking the amount of SAF purchased to the traffic volume, with an indication of the resulting cut in carbon emissions. By participating in the Cargo SAF Programme, our customers not only reduce their carbon footprint, but also demonstrate great leadership and sense of responsibility for a more sustainable future. After all, we can only successfully develop a market for SAF with the support of all industry stakeholders.  


“Our commitment to reducing CO2 emissions is one of the fundamentals of our cargo strategy. The launch of an SAF programme for airfreight is a considerable step in the ambitious sustainability programme we have planned for the next few years. I would like to invite all our customers to join us in creating a more sustainable cargo future”

– Adriaan den Heijer, EVP of Air France-KLM Cargo & Managing Director of Martinair

29 Official partners already joined the CARGO SAF Programme


Looking forward

SAF on our flights from CDG and AMS

In line with our own strategy and in anticipation of EU Green Deal initiatives, Air France KLM will start blending a percentage (0.5% to 1%) of SAF on all flights departing from France and the Netherlands. To achieve economies of scale we will continue to invest in SAF. However, to cover the additional costs we will make this part of our All-In rate from February 2022.

myCargo & carbon footprint

In order to further increase the use of SAF on our flights, we will start offering our customers the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint by buying SAF via our online booking process in myCargo. We expect to introduce this new service in Q2 2022. More information will be available soon.

FAQ SAF on our flights from CDG and AMS

The SAF costs will be included in the all-in price, does this mean that your price from AMS and CDG goes up?

Depending on market dynamics, our main goal remains to be a competitive air cargo player in the industry.

Will the 0.5-1% SAF mix from AMS and CDG be included in the SAF report/certificate for SAF partners joining the Cargo SAF programme?

No, at this moment only the voluntary contribution of SAF partners will be included in the audited SAF report.

Does Air France KLM Martinair Cargo make any money or charge administration costs relating to the mandatory SAF costs?

No, Air France KLM Martinair Cargo absorbs the cost of administration and does not profit from the contribution. We use the full amount to procure SAF. This is an audited process.

Does Air France-KLM not just follow the France mandate of a 0.5%-1% blend as from 2022?

The SAF mandate from France is 0.5%-1% as of 2022. Through implementing this mandatory SAF contribution for all flights departing both from France and as well from the Netherlands, we will go beyond this mandate for France and we voluntarily align this mandate in the Netherlands. This is in line with our ambition to create a more sustainable airfreight future for which we need to act now.

Does Air France-KLM await the EU mandate of 2025 or are they going beyond this mandate?

The SAF mandate of Europe is 2% by 2025. Through implementing this mandatory SAF contribution, we will indeed go beyond this mandate. This is in line with our ambition to create a more sustainable airfreight future for which we need to act now.

What is the positioning and commitment of the AFKL Group towards responsible/sustainable flying? Is there alignment between the passenger and cargo business in this case?

The Air France KLM Group has a joint corporate sustainability strategy for its airlines and related business units. While some of our initiatives relate more towards specific business units, this mandatory contribution will apply for both cargo business as well as our passengers travelling through France and the Netherlands.

Is the mandatory SAF mix percentage the same for flights from France as well as from the Netherlands?

Yes, the SAF mix will be the same for all flights departing from France and the Netherlands

Why join the SAF programme?

Be a pioneer

Become a partner in a long-term project to reform the carbon footprint of the airline industry

Improved green credentials

Contribute to improving the sustainability of your and your clients´ supply chains

Prepare for decarbonisation

Help reduce the overall CO2 emissions of air freight transportation, in advance of the EU´s 2035 decarbonisation goal

2030 Targets

By 2030, we aim to substantially reduce our CO2 output by increasing our use of sustainable aviation fuel. We are on target to expand our SAF production by 5% in 2030, and up to 63% by 2050.

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