‘Shortage in SAF production even as demand increases’

Production incentives for SAF are the way forward to assist decarbonisation efforts. Constant change is never easy, but it is worth it when that change delivers 60 million tonnes of cargo, says Brendan Sullivan, Global Head, Cargo, IATA, at the recently concluded World Cargo Symposium.

CT Bureau

Transparency in CO2 emissions is critical as the air cargo industry makes progress towards net zero emissions by 2050. It will become a requirement and is being demanded by our customers who must report on their emissions, including to their stakeholders.

To be credible, the players should be consistent. Reason why IATA is developing CO2 Connect for Air Cargo and partnering with the Smart Freight Center (SFC), in a collaboration that enables application of a unified methodology along the air cargo value chain for carbon emission calculations and reporting. CO2 Connect for Cargo for calculating CO2 emissions is powered by actual airline operational data and based on the industry-approved methodology. All governments need to support and strengthen the standards in Annex 18 of the Chicago Convention concerning the safe transport of dangerous goods. Updates to Annex 18 will clarify who is responsible for what within the supply chain. “We urge all the countries to adopt and implement these changes to Annex 18, thereby ensuring the safety and efficiency of air transport for HAZMAT,” Sullivan said.

These actions demonstrate how the issues associated with lithium batteries are being managed with better tracking and operational solutions. “Offenders must not fail to declare lithium batteries in cargo or mail shipment or transport those which do not comply with UN test criteria, or not prepare the shipments compromise with the safety and security regulations,” Sullivan added. The growth in ferrying pharma by air and the rise in e-commerce has led to an increase in demand for real-time tracking. Shippers, cargo handlers and stakeholders want to know the procedures for approval and use of tracking devices. The updated IATA Interactive Cargo Guidance provides a framework so that these devices can monitor quality and accuracy of time and temperature-sensitive goods.


“Of late, digitalisation is a blessing disguise for the industry. This has not happened as fast as possible. But progress is real. Inefficient paper-based, manual processes are being replaced with digital solutions in all aspects of cargo processes from tracking to customs clearance,” he said.

Some countries have made progress in implementing strategies to facilitate trade, streamline border operations, and manage goods flow. For example, Brazil’s adoption of IATA’s Advance Cargo Information digital standards has given pace to cargo release times—from five days to just five hours! The authorities estimate this
digital shift could reduce manual cargo processing by 90 per cent. The increasing number of pre-loading advance cargo information initiatives highlights the importance of sharing accurate data within the air cargo supply chain.


Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)  is the cornertone of the cargo industry’s decarbonisation efforts. There is no shortage of demand from airlines and shippers to use SAF. However, shortage of supply is the problem. “Production incentives are the way forward as we saw with the introduction of solar and wind generation for electricity. Singapore is a good example. The government has recently taken steps to create a Sustainable Air Hub with a view to fostering SAF,” Sullivan remarked. “Initiatives such as CO2 Connect, IEnvA and partnerships for SAF procurement exemplify the industry’s commitment to reducing its impact. For any industry to survive, change is essential. Constant change is never easy. But it is worth it when that change delivers 60 million tonnes of cargo, powers economies, improves peoples’ lives, and makes the world a better place,” Sullivan added.

Meanwhile, IATA and the SFC have announced a partnership to provide consistent and transparent carbon emissions calculations for air freight shipments. This is an important step for international air transport to advance its decarbonisation efforts, Frederic Leger, SVP, Commercial Products & Services,  IATA, while addressing the recent WCS said.


“Our partnership with the SFC will help us give pace to development of CO2 Connect for air cargo as the best tool for carbon calculations. This is important for the airlines and shippers and their customers who need accurate calculations based on real data to support their contributions to global decarbonisation efforts,” said Leger, while addressing at the recent World Cargo Symposium.

“A milestone has been reached and this took a long time in the making. The need for unified emissions data is stronger than ever, and this will enable cargo transport service purchasers to make well-founded and long-term decisions. Transparency is the key to drive decarbonisation investments, encouraging synergetic action throughout the value chain. Our partnership with the association will enable effective collaboration by building trust and exchanging info across the value chain which will help in accelerating our efforts in decarbonising the industry,” said Andrea Schoen, Director, Clean Air Transport Programme, SFC.

Pilot project

IATA and SFC are working together with Kuehne+Nagel as a pilot customer for IATA CO2 Connect for Cargo to ensure that the tool meets the requirements of freight forwarders and their customers. “As a freight forwarder, we can attest to the value that this collaboration will bring to the cargo industry,” said Fabiano Piccinno, Global Head, Sustainability Air Logistics, Kuehne+Nagel.

“We are happy to look forward to seeing this project pave the way for future sustainable solutions in aviation.” The SFC Clean Air Transport Programme comprises 50 members. It engages in collaborative action to support the aviation’s decarbonisation efforts.

CO2 Connect for Air Cargo

IATA CO2Connect for Cargo is a carbon emission calculator for the shipments, using primary data from the airlines.  It will be available from the Q4 of 2024. It considers airline-specific fuel burn from freighters and passenger aircraft carrying belly cargo, airline specific cargo load factors, and PLF to determine the correct ratio to attribute to belly cargo. The carbon data output thus provided will be aligned with IATA Recommended Practice 1678 and “we will provide additional output considering CO2e and CO2/tonne-kilometres in a bid to meet the requirements of shippers reporting in those metrics, Leger said.