Air France-KLM Will Offset SAF Costs By Raising Ticket Prices

Starting today, Air France-KLM will offset the expenses of using more sustainable aviation fuel by increasing ticket prices. The new surcharge fee will range between €1 and €12, depending on the distance of the flight and the class of the cabin. Meanwhile, the airlines seem to have differing opinions on how much more expensive sustainable fuel actually is.

Starting today, all KLM flights departing Amsterdam will be powered by a minimum of 0.5% sustainable aviation fuel. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

From January 10th, 2022, all KLM flights departing from Amsterdam Schiphol will be operating on a minimum of 0.5% of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). At the same time, French regulations now require airlines to incorporate on average 1% SAF on all flights departing from France, directly affecting KLM’s partner carrier Air France.

In addition, starting Thursday, the airlines’ customers will be able to purchase additional SAF for their flight when booking. Flying Blue loyalty program members can also use their miles to pay for the fuel.

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Green premium

The production of SAF remains at much lower levels than that which would be required to reduce its cost compared to conventional jet fuels. As such, the conversation has long revolved around who will foot the bill for the more expensive SAF until suppliers and refineries ramp up production. Air France-KLM has decided that, for now, the bill will end up with the customers.

France, United States, COVID-19
Long-haul travel in Air France’s business class will be €12 more expensive starting today. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Between €1 and €12 more

Starting Monday, a surcharge for the additional SAF will be baked into each of the carriers’ ticket prices. In economy, prices will go up by €1 to €4 ($1.13 to $4.50), and in business from €1.50 to €12 ($1.70 to $13.56). The exact amount will depend on the distance of the flight.

Meanwhile, interestingly enough, in their respective communications to customers, KLM says that SAF is at least ‘two to three times’ more expensive than kerosene-based fuel, whereas Air France states it is ‘four to eight times’ more expensive.

But how much less CO2 exactly?

These are not the only figures where the airlines’ opinions diverge. The French flag carrier says that biofuels from materials such as used cooking oil and forestry reduce CO2 emissions by up to 75% during their lifecycle compared with conventional jet fuel. Its Dutch counterpart has a more generous estimate of 85%. In general, the majority of agreed-upon science says up to 80%, although this is highly dependent on the source of the fuel.

Air France SAF
The two airlines seem to have diverging estimates of just how much more expensive SAF really is – and how much less CO2 it produces throughout its lifecycle. Photo: Getty Images

EU-wide blending mandate in three years

The announcements from Air France-KLM are undoubtedly the first in a line of more to come. The European Union will be introducing a SAF blending mandate by 2025. The requirement will start at 2%. It will then increase to 5% at 2030 with a minimum of 0.7% synthetic kerosene. There will then be a significant jump to 20% by 2035, with 5% synthetic fuel. By 2050, the target is set to 63% and 28%, respectively.

How do you feel about paying a few euros extra for airlines to use more sustainable fuel? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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