The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) and General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) are “encouraged” by rules unveiled yesterday by the European Commission to advance the production, availability, and use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) in the region. However, they steered away from formally expressing support for the intended introduction of an EU-wide SAF blending mandate.
Notably, the European Commission’s RefuelEU Aviation Initiative calls for the introduction of an obligation across the bloc to blend 2 percent SAF by 2025, rising to 5 percent in 2030, and 63 percent in 2050.
These SAF measures form part of the commission’s long-awaited "Fit for 55" legislative package to reduce carbon emissions by at least 55 percent of 1990 levels by 2030 and deliver the European Green Deal, which aims to make the continent climate-neutral by 2050. The far-reaching policies—to affect most businesses and households—also include a proposal to introduce an EU-wide tax on aviation fuel (but apparently exempting business aircraft), a proposal to strengthen the EU Emissions Trading Scheme for aviation, and a decision implementing the UN Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation into European law.
“The RefuelEU Aviation Initiative lays the foundation for a strong partnership between policymakers and industry to deliver SAF as a key enabler of the European Green Deal objective to reduce transport-related emissions,” said EBAA secretary-general Athar Husain Khan. GAMA senior v-p for European affairs Kyle Martin noted that the general and business aviation industry is “keenly” focused on fulfilling its commitment to environmental sustainability. “The increased use of SAF, as proposed in the RefuelEU Aviation Initiative, will further complement our manufacturers’ ongoing efforts to reduce aviation’s CO2 emissions,” he said.
Under the proposal, fuel suppliers will need to supply SAF-blended jet fuel at EU airports, and all airlines—EU and non-EU—departing from EU airports will have to uplift SAF-blended jet fuel needed for their flights. To ensure a level playing field and limit carbon leakage resulting from increased fuel tankering at non-EU airports, the amount of jet fuel uplifted must correspond to at least 90 percent of the fuel volume necessary to operate the planned flight (including the fuel safety margins), regardless of the destination.
Along with the ReFuelEU initiative, Brussels on July 14 also outlined its plans to introduce a tax on aviation fuel through an overhaul of the Energy Taxation Directive. The proposal puts forward a minimum EU-wide, harmonized excise duty rate on the relevant fuels—sustainable and alternative fuels are exempt for the first 10 years—used for intra-EU passenger flights, beginning in 2023. Business aviation appears not to be affected by the new tax rule.
“Energy products and electricity used for intra-EU business aviation and pleasure flights should be subject to the standard levels of taxation applicable to motor fuels and electricity in the member states,” according to the Commission’s introductory text of the proposal.
“EBAA has well received the new revision of the Energy Tax Directive and will be analyzing and following the proposal closely in collaboration with its members,” EBAA communications manager Róman Kok told AIN in response to a request for comment on the likely derogation for business aviation. “We are at the start of an EU legislative process and we will take time to assess the impact it has on our members to ensure the final outcome is for the benefit of all Europeans, the industry, and the environment.”
As the next step in the legislative process, the commission’s Fit for 55 proposals will be reviewed and scrutinized by the European Parliament and European Council.