Sustainable aviation fuel is becoming increasingly popular as airlines across the world are increasingly turning to the more environmentally-kind fuel for more passenger commercial flights, test flights, or both. 

The latest airline is Malaysia’s flag carrier Malaysia Airlines as the carrier chose World Environment Day on 5 June to operate its first passenger flight using sustainable aviation fuel. 

Further details 

The flight took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Singapore Changi Airport. The aircraft in use was a Boeing 737-800. 

The aircraft was fueled with SAF at Kuala Lumpur International by PETRONAS Dagangan Berhad, Malaysia-based retailer and marketer of liquefied petroleum gas. The fuel itself was supplied by PETCO Trading (UK), the European Marketing and trading arm of PETRONAS. 

From now on, SAF will be readily available at Kuala Lumpur International Airport for potential airline customers. 

MALAYSIA AIRLINES SAF
Ready for the first Malaysia Airlines commercial flight powered by SAF. | © Malaysia Airlines

Philip See, Group Chief Sustainability Officer for Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG), spoke about Malaysia Airlines achieving such a milestone:

“With the commencement of our first passenger flight using SAF, we encourage passengers to join us on this journey as we take the necessary steps to minimize our environmental impacts and plan for more flights powered by SAF. We will look to make SAF the cleaner and more viable energy option for our regular flights by 2025.”

The flight was powered by a blend of conventional jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) produced by Finnish oil refining and engineering services company Neste. 

Neste’s SAF is produced from 100% renewable waste and residue raw materials (like cooking oil and animal fat waste). 

According to its website, Neste currently produces 100,000 tons of SAF and production will increase to 1.5 million tons (around 1.875 billion litres) annually by the end of 2023.

This May, United Airlines signed an agreement with Neste that’ll see them together in a partnership until 2025.

Vice President APAC Renewable Aviation at Neste, Sami Jauhiainen, said that this collaboration with PETRONAS is its very first supply of Neste to arrive and be used in Malaysia. 

Malaysia Airlines used SAF for the first time in December last year on an Airbus A330-200 cargo flight from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport to Kuala Lumpur International Airport. On that particular flight, a blend of 38% SAF was used alongside jet fuel. 

Malaysia’s mission to encourage the use of SAF

Malaysia Airlines and Kuala Lumpur International Airport are jointly leading the way for the adoption and use of SAF in the Asia-Pacific. However, as a whole, the country of Malaysia is keen to promote the more environmentally-kind option. 

A task force, led by Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry, has been set up by Malaysia’s National Aerospace Industry Coordinating Office to encourage the promotion and adoption of SAF. 

Other key players such as MAG, PETRONAS and relevant industry players are also involved. 

MALAYSIA AIRLINES SAF
Malaysia Airlines hopes to encourage and excite its customers about the idea of using SAF and minimising the environmental impact of flying. Passengers on Flight MH603 are hopefully a cohort of many. | © Malaysia Airlines

Elsewhere, PETRONAS Dagangan Berhad and MAG entered a partnership last year to explore collaborative sustainability opportunities which includes the supply and adoption of SAF and at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. 

Neste is also planning on expanding in Malaysia. The company is currently in the process of expanding its global SAG production to achieve 1.5 million tonnes by 2023. Neste’s Sami Jauhiainen said that they were excited to see the progress SAF makes in Malaysia once its airlines are able to readily receive it: 

“I am excited to see how airlines in Asia-Pacific are setting ambitious targets to decarbonise aviation, and increasingly many airlines are taking SAF into use to reduce their emissions and enable their travelers to fly more sustainably.”

Sustainable aviation fuel is becoming increasingly available across the globe, a welcome sight for all those keen for the aviation industry to become more green. 

What do you think of these latest SAF developments in Asia? Were you on this flight? Let us know in the comments below.

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