Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)

Executive Summary

Published November 2023

Prepared for airport leaders and others wanting a general understanding of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), this white paper seeks to grow familiarity with and support for SAF as airports and airlines work toward their goals of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

This guide was developed as part of the American Association of Airport Executives’ (AAAE) Airport Consortium on Transformation (ACT) by a members’ working group lead by San Francisco International Airport and Arup. The time is now for airports to become involved and prepare for a future fueled by SAF since:

  • SAF offers a direct way to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and improve local air quality.
  • SAF produced and blended to appropriate standards is a drop-in replacement for Jet-A and meets the same specifications as jet fuel.
  • Multiple pathways to produce SAF are certified using waste, agricultural products, and renewable energy as feedstocks, with more pathways currently in development.
  • Global demand for SAF is growing from mandates, incentives, and lower cost production.
  • Book-and-claim systems allow for a fluid SAF economy.

To achieve widespread SAF adoption and meet net-zero goals, SAF production and adoption has several key challenges to overcome. Strong consistent policy support will be essential to enable the transition to SAF for the aviation industry, and government incentives and mandates for SAF adoption are growing but are time-limited and vary among states.

SAF production facilities are still relatively limited compared to the global demand, while scaling up production capacity requires major investments. Until large scale production is reached, higher prices for SAF likely will result, especially after current IRA and LCFS incentives expire, making it less attractive for airlines operating on tight margins. Meanwhile, a growing awareness of the benefits and potential of SAF may result in an increased use of SAF.

The advent of SAF puts leading airports in a position to help influence the adoption of the broader aviation sector. Airports should be aware of these implications, notably:

  • Infrastructure: on-airport infrastructure requires minimal modifications to accommodate SAF. Airports may be able to use their role to help aggregate demand for SAF, support awareness campaigns, and support permitting of off-airport infrastructure needed to deliver SAF in the future.
  • Book and Claim: trading the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reductions of SAF with SAF certificates allows benefits to be attached to any flight, as SAF certificate exchanges will allow producers, brokers, distributors and buyers (including airlines and travelers) to ensure that the sale of these benefits is not double-counted. Airports can purchase SAF certificates for their own staff air travel and can encourage passengers to purchase certificates as well through programs such as The Good Traveler.
  • Local Air Quality: unlike the Book and Claim system for GHG benefits, SAF’s benefits to local air pollution cannot be traded over long distances. SEA is developing an innovative pilot study that may demonstrate the feasibility of realizing these benefits. However, new SAF physical tracking systems and new incentive programs would be required to monetize these benefits more regularly.

Click the button below to fill out our form so you can receive an emailed copy of the in-depth research and analysis from the consortium’s work on this exciting topic.

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SAF Working Group Members

The ACT SAF Working Group has been actively supported by a range of airports and industry participants.




Eagle County Regional Airport

Eagle County Regional Airport

Eugene-Mahlon Sweet Field Airport


Greater Toronto Airports Authority


Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Los Angeles World Airports

Los Angeles World Airports

Port of Seattle

Port of Seattle


San Francisco International Airport


Contact Jeremy Valcich at [email protected] to learn more.