two men piloting plane during daytimeWith one million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) available at launch, American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT), the world’s leading B2B travel platform, and Shell Aviation, today urged the private sector to help decarbonize air travel by joining a landmark SAF pilot program. Companies that sign up have access to Avelia, one of the world’s first blockchain-powered digital SAF* book-and-claim** solutions for business travel.

The SAF will be certified in line with the regulatory standards set within the country of delivery. Purchase commitments by pioneering corporations including Accenture, Amex GBT, Aon and Shell, are all supporting market development and driving investment to accelerate global supply. Aon is the first Amex GBT pilot customer to join the program. Discussions are in advanced stages with several other global and multinational customers and airlines.

The business travel community is highly influential and concentrated, compared to leisure travel. While representing a relatively smaller portion of aviation, business travel can play a large role in leading the transition towards net-zero aviation. Businesses and organizations joining this pilot will contribute to reducing emissions and driving wider adoption of SAF.

How the Amex GBT and Shell SAF pilot program works:

  • The pilot program is operated on Avelia, the newly launched blockchain-powered book-and-claim platform developed by Shell and Accenture, with the support of the Energy Web Foundation (EWF).
  • Avelia taps into Amex GBT’s global client base to aggregate global demand for SAF.
  • Corporations reduce emissions associated with business travel by committing to purchase SAF environmental attributes and gaining access to SAF.
  • Airlines will be identified for co-investment opportunities and will benefit from access to SAF at more affordable prices because the cost is shared across the aviation value chain.
  • Shell Aviation will supply SAF into the aviation fuel network. Book-and-claim enables travelers to invest in and benefit from SAF, even if SAF is not available at their departure airport. SAF will instead be fed into another aircraft in an airport where it is available.
  • Non-governmental organizations, including the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, the Smart Freight Centre, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Transportation & Logistics SAF Guidelines[1], will observe and be engaged.
  • The Avelia platform offers a solution that is inclusive and neutral with respect to airlines, technology production pathways, fuels and feedstocks.

Amex GBT CEO Paul Abbott said: “This pilot is an important foundational step on our journey towards a net-zero world by 2050. As more businesses and organizations like Aon join this SAF pilot program, market signals will grow stronger, making SAF more cost-competitive with conventional jet fuel.”

Jan Toschka, President, Shell Aviation, said: “SAF is the only viable option for reducing aviation emissions in the near-to medium-term. Lower or zero carbon technologies such as hydrogen and electric flight are decades away from having impact at scale, while SAF can be used immediately without the need for a fundamental change in infrastructure or aircraft design.”

James Platt, Aon’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “We believe there is an opportunity to chart a better path for both our firm and society to become more resilient and sustainable. As we help our clients make better decisions as they navigate the volatility and risk in managing climate transition, we are also making bold moves to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. We are proud to be among the first to join this initiative in piloting a solution for SAF that will help Aon and others meet their emissions reduction targets and sustainability commitments.”

Suzanne Neufang, CEO, Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), said: “Transformative sustainability initiatives and collaboration will help create a better future for our planet and for business travel. According to GBTA’s State of Sustainability Report published during Earth Month, 89% of business travel respondents say sustainability is a major priority for their company. The business travel community is simultaneously demanding and driving environmental progress, with pioneering pilots such as this at the forefront.”