Last week, Virgin Atlantic operated the first long-haul flight powered solely by SAF. This was hailed as a great success by the industry, but now there are formal complaints to the OECD against Virgin and competitor British Airways.
With the help of a law firm, the organization “Possible” filed complaints against the two carriers with the OECD. Among other things, it states that the two airlines make misleading statements about reducing carbon dioxide emissions. It would not be apparent to non-experts that carbon dioxide emissions would continue to occur.
British Airways is also accused of emphasizing in its advertising that it is taking many steps towards “net zero emissions” and wants to achieve this goal by 2050. The complainants question this and point out that emissions increased annually from 2016 to 2019 and did not decrease. “Possible” criticizes the fact that the advertising materials do not mention that the goals they have set themselves have not yet been achieved.
When asked, a British Airways media representative countered: “We were the first airline to report on its carbon footprint more than two decades ago and we were the first airline to voluntarily participate in the UK emissions trading system.”
The “Possible” organization is generally critical of the SAF deployment. It is believed that the goal of decarbonized aviation cannot be achieved by switching from fossil fuels to renewable raw materials, because combustion in the engines continues to emit carbon dioxide. A spokeswoman said: “For fuels made from biomass, there is no land available on which biofuels can be grown in sufficient quantities to power aviation without enormously damaging deforestation occurring, which increases emissions and makes biofuels just as bad for the climate as kerosene, if not worse.”
Virgin Atlantic does not share this view either. “There are two levers to achieve intra-sector carbon reductions in the short to medium term: the fleet we operate and the fuel we consume. We already fly across the Atlantic with one of the youngest and most efficient fleets. “Beyond fleet renewal, SAF offers an immediate opportunity to reduce lifecycle carbon emissions by up to 70% and is something we have been pioneering for over 15 years,” a spokesperson continued Inquiry.