American Express Global Business Travel is teaming up with energy giant Shell and professional services company Accenture to create a new platform for purchasing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The three companies have launched Avelia, which is a “book-and-claim” platform for sourcing SAF, which reduces carbon emissions from flights compared with traditional kerosene jet fuel.
Book-and-claim allows travellers to pay for SAF and claim the benefits, even if SAF is not available at their departure airport, with the fuel instead being fed into another aircraft in an airport where SAF is available.
Avelia aims to share the costs and benefits of SAF across the business travel sector by giving airlines access to the “buying capacity” of corporate customers who are willing to share the higher cost of purchasing SAF, which is currently four to five times higher than normal jet fuel.
The platform, which uses blockchain-based technology, has been developed by Shell and Accenture, with the support of the Energy Web Foundation (EWF). Working with Amex GBT will allow Avelia to aggregate global business demand for SAF to help increase supply and use of the fuel.
Paul Abbott, CEO of Amex GBT, said: “A truly viable route to decarbonising air travel is now open for business. We’re calling on all companies to join us and share the costs and benefits of SAF across the travel and aviation sectors.
“Airlines will gain access to the buying capacity of businesses, drawing from Amex GBT’s 19,000 customers around the world.”
The pilot phase of the programme aims to demonstrate the “credibility” of the book-and-claim model by using blockchain technology to account for and track the environmental benefits from using SAF for both the corporate client and the airline.
Jan Toschka, president of Shell Aviation, said: “SAF is a key enabler of decarbonisation in the aviation industry, and it’s available today. However, it’s currently scarce and costs more than conventional jet fuel.
“Avelia will help trigger demand for SAF at scale, providing confidence to suppliers like us to further increase investment in production, and in turn helping to lower the price point for these fuels.”
Rachel Barton, Europe strategy lead at Accenture, said: “Our vision for the Avelia platform is to bring together airlines, corporates, cargo players and SAF suppliers in a trusted ecosystem that no individual company could build or access on its own.
“Blockchain technology will be piloted to help ensure trust via data integrity, validate proof of ownership and enable transparent tracking of the environmental benefits of SAF for customers.”
Nora Lovell Marchant, Amex GBT’s vice president of global sustainability, told BTN Europe that Avelia was intended to be an “inclusive platform which is designed to be an industry solution”.
“We are offering it for our clients but if corporates who are not our customers were interested in becoming a pilot partner, we could onboard them as a consulting client,” she explained.
“The pilot programme will constitute one million gallons of SAF, which is the largest book-and-claim pilot at launch. It's really exciting - we're seeking to demonstrate that this is a viable option at scale."
Amex GBT will also be the launch partner for airlines association IATA’s CO2 Connect online tool which provides carbon emissions calculations for any commercial passenger flight.
CO2 Connect, which allows travel managers and travellers to see emissions for every routing, has been launched at IATA’s annual general meeting taking place in Doha this week.