Heathrow airport has called on the UK government to scale up the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) in the UK to cut emissions.

This comes ahead of the COP26 summit taking place in Glasgow from October 31, and after IATA’s announcement of a global commitment to net zero aviation by 2050.

Heathrow CEO John 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.”

The airport saw passenger numbers remain at just under 40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels last month, while European countries saw a stronger rebound.

North American traffic was at 25 per cent of 2019 levels, and cargo was close to eight per cent down by volume on 2019, which reflects the way in which travel restrictions have been damaging UK exports and supply chains according to Heathrow.

The airport has welcomed the easing of testing requirements, the scrapping of the traffic light system, and reduction in the number of countries on the ‘red’ list which it says will “make international travel simpler, chepaer and less stressful” for passengers.

It added that the removal of PCR tests for vaccinated travellers in October and the opening of the US will “put us on track for recovery”.

Heathrow airport slumped from the busiest airport in Europe to 14th place during the first half of this year, according to a report by European airport trade body ACI Europe.

For more information on sustainable aviation fuels, see our feature:

Sustainable aviation fuels: Ready for take-off?