LATAM receives a new aircraft using Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for the first time

LATAM Group and Airbus carried out their first ferry flight with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), between the cities of Toulouse (France) and Fortaleza (Brazil). 

The flight, which used a fuel blend with 30% SAF produced from used cooking oil, was carried out in an A320neo, an aircraft with advanced technology to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, and is part of the project renewal of the LATAM fleet that will allow the group to have more than 100 A320neo family aircraft in operation by the end of this decade. 

By the end of this year, LATAM expects to have 31 A320neo family aircraft in operation as part of the renewal plan, with the group reaching a total fleet of 323 aircraft by the end of 2023. This will allow it not only to complement its current fleet of new generation aircraft, but also to become one of the most modern and efficient fleets in South America, further improving its connectivity. Currently, the group operates 1,500 daily flights to 147 destinations in 24 countries. 

Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is a type of fuel that comes from alternative raw materials such as waste, fats and oils, among others, which are processed to produce a low CO2 fuel during its life cycle. In this case, the 30% of SAF used in the flight had an attributed reduction factor of around 80% of CO2 in its life cycle, compared to conventional fuel. (According to the ICAO “Default Life Cycle Emissions Values for CORSIA Eligible Fuels”) 

“This flight is a joint effort between LATAM and Airbus and represents one of our most concrete advances in the group’s agenda regarding the use of SAF. Last year, we announced our interest in reaching a 5% use of SAF by 2030, prioritizing its production in South America, and we did so because we are convinced that sustainable aviation fuels will play an important role in the decarbonization of the industry.” said the CFO of the LATAM Group, Ramiro Alfonsín.  

The executive added that “today, the quantities of SAF available worldwide are very limited, and access to this type of fuel in South America continues to be one of the major challenges facing the decarbonization of the industry. South America has great potential to produce SAF and thereby make a very significant contribution to climate action, which is why it is important to advance an agenda that involves different stakeholders to promote SAF production in our region”. 

The A320neo aircraft offers an average fuel saving, compared to previous technology, of 15%, which can reach 20% on the longest hauls. According to data from the manufacturer, since its entry into service, the A320neo Family has managed to avoid the generation of approximately 20 million tons of CO2 and a reduction of up to 50% in its acoustic footprint. 

In May 2021, the LATAM group launched its renewed sustainability strategy in which it set challenging goals: Achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, eliminate single-use plastics by 2023; and become a zero waste to landfill group in 2027, in order to contribute to the protection of South American ecosystems for the next 30 years.