Heathrow Airport (LHR) has urged the UK Government to announce policies to scale up the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), enabling airlines to minimise their aviation emissions.

The airport has suggested the introduction of a price support mechanism (such as contracts for difference) and loan guarantees as part of the mandate.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye made this suggestion ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, which will commence later this month.

Holland-Kaye said: “We should aim for 2019 to have been the peak year for fossil fuel use in global aviation.

“The UK Government can show real leadership in decarbonising aviation at COP26, by setting a progressively increasing mandate and a plan to use contracts for difference to accelerate the transition to Sustainable Aviation Fuel in the UK, which will protect the benefits of flying for future generations.”

Airlines and airports have all been urging the government to increase the production of SAF, which will allow them to minimise their carbon footprints.

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SAF, which usually generates 70% less carbon than fossil fuels, is expensive as its production is very low, at less than 1% of total jet fuel demand.

In June, Airports Council International (ACI) World and the five ACI regions set a long-term carbon goal for their member airports to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

In the same month, Heathrow Airport, in collaboration with Vitol Aviation and Neste, integrated SAF into its operation.

Heathrow reported that its passenger numbers remained low at just under 40% of pre-pandemic levels in September while its EU rivals witnessed a stronger recovery during summer.

In a statement, the airport said: “North American traffic is only 25% of 2019 levels. Cargo, which is carried in the hold of passenger planes, was close to 8% down by volume on 2019, reflecting the way in which travel restrictions have been damaging UK exports and supply chains.”