Future Of SAF In The Hands Of Big Oil, Says O’Leary

Credit: World Travel & Tourism Council

The future of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) lies in the hands of existing oil and gas companies, says Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary.

Speaking at the airline’s quarterly results briefing, O’Leary said he doubts the current move by airlines to invest in SAF will lead to the volumes and supply chain necessary for wide-scale use.

“The problem with investing in one supplier is how we then get the SAF to all the airports we fly from,” he said. “We've got 91 bases around Europe, so it’s a challenge trying to build a SAF supply chain to all of them.

“Ultimately, that's why I'm of the view that the oil majors will be the only ones with the capacity to quickly produce and supply SAF in the appropriate volumes we need and at the airports where we need it.”

O’Leary didn’t rule out Ryanair’s future investment in SAF production—“Never say never,” he said—but that for the foreseeable he prefers signing SAF-supplier agreements instead. To date, the company has such agreements with Neste, OMV, Repsol, and Shell for use in Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK.

He also made it clear he encouraged other airlines’ investment into SAF, such as IAG’s recent support in building a SAF facility in the north of England.

“We very much endorse and support IAG’s strategy if it accelerates and maximizes production of SAF, and the supply chain to get it to the airports,” he said.

Tom Pleasant

Tom Pleasant has been an aviation journalist and editor since 2008. He has been the Group Deputy editor for A-Z Media Group, editor of Air Cargo News…