JetBlue passengers flying on domestic routes will not have to choose whether they want to purchase carbon offset credits or not going forward. The carrier announced today that it would take on that burden beginning in July 2020. The carrier will also ramp up the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from the middle of the year, beginning with flights departing San Francisco.
Air travel connects people and cultures, and supports a global economy, yet we must act to limit this critical industry’s contributions to climate change. We reduce where we can and offset where we can’t. By offsetting all of our domestic flying, we’re preparing our business for the lower-carbon economy that aviation – and all sectors – must plan for.– Robin Hayes, chief executive officer, JetBlue
A massive increase to JetBlue’s carbon offset program
JetBlue has run targeted offset programs since 2008, addressing a total of 2.6 billion pounds of emissions. The new program aims to offset 15-17 billion pounds each year. It is a massive increase in the carrier’s commitment. The carrier is not the only airline making such commitments in the new year.
- EasyJet made a system-wide commitment in late 2019
- Qantas will match customer commitments dollar for dollar
- SAS offsets emissions for any member of its EuroBonus loyalty program
- Air France will offset emissions related to its domestic operations, covering 450 flights and 57,000 passengers daily
- British Airways similarly announced plans to cover its domestic flights with offsets, though its 75 daily domestic flights makes this a rather smaller commitment
JetBlue’s domestic operations in July 2020 currently anticipate 800 departures and 130 million ASMs daily. This offset commitment is massive. With an average offset cost reported around $3/tonne this effort could hit JetBlue’s bottom line to the tune of $25 million annually. That number could vary wildly, however, as the range of offset options come at varying price points.
Even with the offsets in place, however, CEO Robin Hayes acknowledges that it is not the only appropriate action, “Carbon offsetting is a bridge to, not a silver bullet for, a lower carbon future. Reducing and mitigating our greenhouse gas emissions is a fundamental aspect of our business plan and our mission to inspire humanity.”
A sustainable aviation fuel commitment
JetBlue contracted with Neste, the world’s largest producer of sustainable aviation fuel, to help fuel its fleet beginning in mid-2020. The deal initially covers departures from San Francisco. Neste’s operations are significant at SFO and the supply is sufficient to support JetBlue and other airline partners. Neste also expects that 2020 is a tipping point in the production of SAFs, allowing it to enter into many more partnerships such as this one at many locations around the globe.
Neste expects that SAF production will increase by orders of magnitude in the coming years as additional production facilities come online. The company produced approximately 30 million gallons of SF in 2019 and expects to top 340 million gallons in 2022. In addition to the deal for including its supply of SAFs at San Francisco International Airport Neste also is working with DFW and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to increase supplies available.