Since 01JAN23, Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is flowing through NATO pipelines, filling storage facilities at both airports and thus complementing the supply of traditional Jet A-1 kerosene. NATO came into the picture because the organization has a wide-reaching infrastructural network to guarantee permanent operational capability. Having SAF permanently available on tap makes it easier for airlines to use the fuel which reduces the negative global warming impact due to its low CO2 emissions.
Dual use pipelines
The NATO pipes in Liège (LGG) and Brussels (BRU) exist for years because the defense alliance’s military forces rely on secure fuel supplies to power their air fleets. However, until now, SAF had never been pumped through the pipes to BRU and LGG. This has now changed. Since 01JAN23, the NATO Pipeline System (CEPS) in Belgium has partially turned green, supplying commercial aircraft at both airports with SAF. Considering climate change, it is an important project and an encouraging signal to other airports to follow suit and bunker larger quantities of SAF, with or without NATO pipes. The pact signed by the military organization and the airports, was preceded by a thorough audit of the existing fuel storage facilities at LGG and BRU, including local distribution practices.
SAF suppliers have two options
In a statement, Liège Airport mentions the mutual benefits resulting from interconnecting the NATO pipelines with the refueling infrastructure existing on airport. Any current and new fuel supplier now has the option to directly and physically discharge SAF via road tankers into the fuel installations, or to inject larger quantities of SAF into one of the intake points of the European (NATO) pipeline system.
First civil CEPS user
Over in 100 km distant Brussels Airport, home carrier Brussels Airlines claims to have been the first carrier to fuel an aircraft with SAF after it was pumped through the NATO pipeline. In a release, the airport lauds the particular features of SAF which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% over the lifetime of the fuel compared to using Jet A-1fossil aviation fuel. In the case of Brussels Airlines, the NESTE provided SAF is produced from sustainably sourced, 100% renewable waste and residual raw materials, including used cooking oil and animal fat waste. The Finnish specialist is a leading vendor of Sustainable Aviation Fuel. Brussels Airlines purchased 2,000 barrels of 1,000 liters from NESTE, each with a blend of 38% SAF for this pilot project. The Sustainable Aviation Fuel was transported by Brussels Airlines from NESTE's blending facilities in Ghent, Belgium via the CEPS pipeline to the fuel storage facility at Brussels Airport just after midnight on 01JAN23, allowing Brussels Airlines to operate its first flights with SAF that very day after the night flight curfew ended.
BRU targets 5% SAF
“To achieve our climate goals, we will have to drastically increase the use of alternatives to fossil fuels in the coming years. Next to fleet renewal, sustainable aviation fuel is the most effective tool currently available to reduce emissions from air travel” CEO Peter Gerber, CEO of Brussels Airlines stated on the occasion.
Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport, added to this: “As an airport within the framework of our European Stargate program, we have expressed the ambition to aim for 5% SAF on total kerosene imports by 2026. That is faster than the European target, but we want to fully commit to this together with our airline partners. The fact that our home carrier, Brussels Airlines, is already taking the lead with a first order of SAF is a great start to realizing this ambition,” BRU’s helmsman underlined.
Airlines tending to join the SAF bandwagon
Liège Airport announced that, thanks to the pipeline network, any current and new fuel supplier now has the option of injecting “larger quantities of SAF into one of the intake points of the CEPS pipes. In parallel, we are also happy to share that several of our airline-customers confirmed having talks with suppliers to arrange for the procurement and use of SAF at our airport in the short and medium term,” Christan Delcourt, Head of Liège Communications, stated. While at the Walloon airport mainly cargo carriers will benefit from the easy access to SAF, because pax traffic plays only a niche role there, in contrast at Brussels Airport it will be both passenger and and freight airlines alike.
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