The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged the International Energy Agency (IEA) to focus its attention on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) investment.

The investment would encourage aviation’s contribution to the post-Covid-19 recovery.

IATA’s call comes ahead of the IEA’s virtual Clean Energy Transitions Summit, where a debate will be conducted on the journey to a low-carbon future.

The IEA with stakeholders, both in government and the fuel industry, is capable of promoting SAF production.         

IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said: “The enormous amounts of money that governments are investing in the economic recovery from Covid-19 are an opportunity to create a legacy of energy transition for the aviation industry.

“To achieve this, governments, the finance community and the fuel producers – both large and small – must work together with the goal of rapidly increasing production of affordable sustainable aviation fuel.”

SAF production is currently estimated to be 50 million litres a year. It is expected to reach seven billion litres or 2% of 2019 consumption for its costs to drop to levels competitive with jet fuel.

de Juniac added: “As much as airlines want to use SAF, production is well below the scale needed for prices to fall to competitive levels.

“Attaining the right price point is even more crucial as industry losses and debt levels rise.

“But if governments can use this unique time to combine a safe fiscal and regulatory framework supporting SAF production with the direct allocation of stimulus funds to SAF production, it is possible to reach the 2% tipping point in 2025.’’

Earlier this month, the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) took a decision on the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

Last month, IATA estimated that the airlines could lose $84.3bn this year due to the pandemic.