SAF explained

We answer frequently asked questions about Sustainable Aviation Fuel, and outline some of the immediate environmental benefits...

Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) has slowly but surely become a major talking point in the aviation industry. Lacking the headline appeal of other sustainable technologies within aviation such as Electric/EVTOL and Hydrogen, SAF has been slower to gain traction. However, it is no less important – the main reason being that unlike other technologies that are still at least a decade away from commercialisation, it is available to use today. Not only is it environmentally friendly – reducing carbon emissions by up to 80%* – but it is also safe and does not require any changes to existing aircraft to use it. As a matter of fact, over 500,000 commercial flights have already used SAF since 2016. The beauty of SAF is that it’s a ‘drop-in’ fuel, which means it can be used in the existing aviation infrastructure without requiring any additional investment.  

One of the exciting developments with SAF is the innovative models that are making it more accessible to airlines and passengers alike. For example, our ‘Pay Here, Use There’ blueprint, created in partnership with Neste, enables customers to purchase SAF every time they book flights. We’re delighted to share that one in five of our customers are voluntarily buying SAF, and on average, they are spending around £965 on SAF per booking. This is a clear indication of the growing demand for more sustainable air travel.  

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Such models are helping to increase the use of SAF and support the transition away from fossil fuels in a credible way. With SAF, we have an opportunity to create a more sustainable future for the aviation industry, and it’s a responsibility we take seriously. 

With that in mind, we decided to provide some responses to the frequently asked questions that our team encounter on a daily basis, in a bid to provide insight for the rest of the market, and to enlighten stakeholders of aviation about the often-misunderstood world of SAF. 

Q: What is SAF? 

A: Sustainable Aviation Fuel is the next generation of aviation fuel made from 100% renewable waste and residue raw materials, such as used cooking oil. SAF reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% compared to fossil jet fuel – over the lifecycle of the fuel (1). 

Importantly, SAF keeps fossil fuel underground. The reason emissions are 80% and not 100% is because there is a carbon footprint associated with the production process, including transportation.  

Q: How is SAF made? 

A: Essentially, fast food chains and other businesses such as abattoirs supply Neste with waste and raw materials such as used cooking oil and waste fats, which are then turned into Sustainable Aviation Fuel. This short video from Neste offers a digestible explanation. 

Q: Is SAF more expensive? 

A: SAF is currently at least 2-3 times more expensive than traditional jet fuel. However, the SAF market is new and market economics will ultimately determine the cost of SAF. As the industry matures and becomes more efficient, the price of SAF relative to fossil fuels should reduce.  

Q: Is there enough renewable waste and residue raw materials to ramp up SAF and achieve Net Zero targets? 

A: Yes, there is more than enough renewable waste and residue raw materials to supply the expected 12 million tons of SAF demand by 2030. The WEF Clean Skies for Tomorrow report confirms the availability of 40 million tons of renewable waste and residue raw materials per annum available today with the potential to increase. Furthermore, renewable waste and residue raw materials not used for SAF can also be used for renewable diesel. 

Q: Why did you partner with Neste as your SAF producer? 

A: Neste is the world’s leading producer of SAF – by the end of 2023 they will have capacity of 1.5 million tons per annum – more than the upcoming EU 2% SAF mandate by 2025 that would equate to 1.2 million tons. We wanted to partner directly with a SAF producer which is already producing SAF (many SAF companies have not yet built their refineries) to ensure absolute transparency for our customers. With Neste we have a clear chain of custody where our customers can see the exact carbon emission reduction they have paid for and receive a document detailing that (which they can use for their Scope 3 carbon emissions reporting). It was important to us to facilitate our customers buying SAF directly from the supplier with no other middle-men. Victor does not make any profit on Neste’s SAF. 

Q: How is your partnership with Neste going? 

A: Since launching at the end of June last year, we are seeing significant enthusiasm from our customers which is very encouraging. 1 in 5 are voluntarily purchasing c.£965 of Neste MY SAF™ for their bookings, equating to one SAF booking every working day. The average amount of SAF purchased per booking is 30%. 

Q: What are your thoughts on Government Policy in relation to achieving Net Zero? 

A: We believe that if Government commitment to Net Zero falters, others – organisations and individuals – must take up the slack. Innovative models, like the ‘Pay Here, Use There’ blueprint we have developed enables organisations and individuals to voluntarily purchase SAF. Importantly, any voluntary SAF purchase on our platform is additional and reduces the emphasis on top-down Government plans which may or may not be imposed. We must achieve Net Zero regardless. 

Q: Why didn’t you partner with a UK SAF business with refineries here? 

A: Neste were the standout SAF partner, however, it is positive to see more UK investment projects in the pipeline. Decarbonisation of aviation requires hundreds of billions of dollars across all regions to convert fossil fuels to renewables and Neste knows they cannot do it alone. 

Q: What are the issues and threats related to SAF? 

A: In terms of demand, SAF is not widely available yet, and it is 2-3 times more expensive than traditional jet fuel. Additionally, SAF requires more effort to get attention and be understood. In terms of supply, continuous feedstock development is important, and power to liquid fuels will be needed to increase SAF production beyond 2030 to achieve Net Zero. 

Q: Can you tell us more about your ‘pay here, use there’ model? 

A: Our ‘pay here, use there’ model enables our customers to voluntarily purchase Neste Sustainable Aviation Fuel every time they charter an aircraft, irrespective of aircraft or airport. When the customer books, they can choose how much SAF they’d like to buy, and the SAF is not-for-profit. We notify Neste, who then deliver the SAF from their refinery to Helsinki airport where it is then used on a commercial flight by one of their partner airlines. After the commercial airline has burnt the fuel, the certification process can take place. The Victor customer who purchased the SAF will get a receipt or certificate itemising exactly how much SAF they bought, details of the flight that burnt the fuel, and details of the greenhouse gas emission reduction achieved. This certificate can be used for the customers’ emission reporting if they are signed up to Science Based Targets. 

Q: Is your ‘pay here, use there’ blueprint offsetting? 

A: Our ‘pay here, use there’ blueprint is different from offsetting because the emission reduction is in-sector, meaning the emission reduction is staying in aviation. Furthermore, the emission reduction is ‘immediate’, and there is a clear chain of custody. 

Q: How do you justify the carbon footprint that you create by the aircraft that are hired to transport very rich people all over the world? 

A: Practically, aviation cannot be shut-off. Our Mission is a better way to fly and credible climate action is a priority. It’s important that we take responsibility for our client’s emissions by driving awareness of SAF and proving voluntary SAF demand exists. ‘Pay Here, Use There’ voluntary models like ours have the potential to drive up production of SAF and transition away from fossil fuel at a far faster pace than existing predictions thanks to the additionality they create. If such demand exists, supply will accelerate. 

Q: What is next at Victor and for the SAF industry? 

A: At Victor we have an internal goal to go from 1 in 5 customers, to 1 in 4 during 2023. Using our platform, the team will continue to raise awareness of the benefits of SAF. If electric or hydrogen aircraft become available to charter commercially then we shall likely make them available to charter – although we know that this will not be for some time. For the industry, the need to unlock new raw materials such as algae and power to liquid fuels to increase SAF production is important, but now it’s important to use the renewable waste and residue raw materials that are currently available rather than just wait. We are now urging commercial airlines and airline ticket websites to replicate our model, advocating the use of SAF as an option during the check-out process for all bookings. 

To read more about the results of one year in partnership with Neste, please read our press release at this link 

 For all media enquiries contact: flyvictor@mercurycomms.com


*80% over the fuel lifecycle. Calculated with established life cycle assessment (LCA) methodologies, such as CORSIA methodology. https://www.neste.com/products/all-products/saf/key-benefits#b81e9946 

*Visual illustrates 269 Victor private jet charter bookings between June 29th 2022 and June 19th 2023, which included a voluntary Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel™ purchase, via Victor x Neste’s ‘Pay Here Use There’ solution. These 269 customer flight bookings did not use Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel™ on their flights. Further information available via: https://lnkd.in/e6DtuxHZ. The information contained on this illustration is for general information purposes only. You should not rely upon the information on the illustration as a basis for making any business, legal or any other decision. *80% over the fuel lifecycle. Calculated with established life cycle assessment (LCA) methodologies, such as CORSIA.