Clay Lacy Sees Slow, but Growing Interest in SAF

 - November 11, 2021, 6:32 AM

Clay Lacy is seeing a slow but growing demand from operators for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), Scott Cutshall, the California-based company’s senior v-p of development and sustainability, told attendees Wednesday at AIN’s Building a Sustainable Flight Department forum. Cutshall, who provided an overview on developing a sustainable organization, noted Clay Lacy began carrying the fuel in April at its Southern California FBOs and has since sold less than 10,000 gallons.

“We have plenty more to sell,” he added, noting that the price differential has narrowed to 56 cents more than conventional jet-A in Van Nuys and 83 cents in Orange County.

When the FBO began to offer SAF, “we started getting calls. And they have a lot of questions.” Clay Lacy was asked about the blend—which is 30 percent at this FBO—the source, and how it was stored. “It hasn't started to translate into purchases until the last few months,” Cutshall said.

Fractional ownership provider Flexjet started purchasing it, some corporate flight departments have begun to take it, and the interest is increasing. He noted one operator came in and mentioned his aircraft owner asked him to purchase SAF whenever available.

“We haven't seen the volume of or uptake that we were originally hoping for,” he said. “But I think it will come next year because I think a lot of flight departments are budgeting this year. And I think we're going to start to see greater adoption.”

Incorporation of SAF is part of a larger effort by Clay Lacy to look at ways to foster sustainability throughout its aviation services businesses. He told attendees that to begin down that road, the organization must determine the “why.”

Clay Lacy decided to move in that direction because it believes regulations will eventually come surrounding such efforts and it wanted to get ahead of the curve. Another key reason was to give it a competitive advantage, and “this is already proven to be true,” Cutshall noted, because the company is already seeing requests for proposals about its sustainability strategy.

A third reason: “It’s the right thing to do.” The FBO wants to help its customers, as well as work within the community, on sustainable efforts, he said.

As far as implementation, he reiterated a theme during AIN’s sustainability event: “It all starts with measurement. Where are you? If you don't know where you are and you put a bunch of practices in place, how are you going to know if you're making progress or not?”

The next step is “reduce.” Cutshall said there are ways to reduce that will not inhibit operations. He cited as an example lights that involve motion sensors that will pop on and off when a person enters the room.

Reduce is followed by replace. Again, he stressed this does not have to hamper business. It could be simple steps such as replacing plastic water bottles with box water containers or replacing trash can liners with sustainably-sourced liners.

The key to this is to dedicate and train personnel to spearhead such initiatives. Cutshall suggested that flight departments start by looking at the goals of the larger organization to ensure they are in alignment. But he also suggested picking a few areas to begin with and then the efforts will build from there. “Just start,” he urged.