KLM and Delft University join hands for sustainable civil aviation


Over the coming two years, staff at the Delft University of Technology will take flights using biofuel. On Tuesday, the university signed an agreement to participate in KLM’s Corporate BioFuel Programme. KLM is the only European airline operating intercontinental flights using portions of sustainable biofuel. Through the Corporate BioFuel Programme, the Dutch airline hopes to promote the market for sustainable biofuel in the ultimate aim to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. 

“I’m very glad that the Delft University of Technology has decided to join our Corporate BioFuel Programme,” said KLM CEO Pieter Elbers. “I hope that other Dutch companies follow the example of the university and our current partners in the Programme and join in. It is essential to work with a variety of partners such as aircraft manufacturers, air traffic controllers, and airports so we can achieve real results and make the airline industry more sustainable.”
Pieter Elbers, CEO KLM
“By joining the Corporate BioFuel Programme, the Delft University of Technology wishes to emphasise the importance of sustainable civil aviation,” said Tim van der Hagen, chairman of the university’s board of supervisors. Alongside our research into sustainable biofuels – including the development of bio-jet fuels – we believe it’s important that our staff fly as sustainably as possible.”
Tim van der Hagen, voorzitter College van Bestuur TU Delft

Three times the price
By participating in the Corporate BioFuel Programme (CBP) the university wants to contribute actively to the introduction of more environmentally friendly jet fuel. By participating in the Programme, the university can reduce CO2 emissions among its staff’s business travel by about 10% per flight. KLM will use the investment by participants in the CBP to bridge the price difference between standard fuel and sustainable biofuel. Right now, biofuel is three times as expensive as traditional jet fuel.

Using sustainable biofuel in large quantities can result in an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions in the airline industry. For this reason, there is a worldwide need for technological development and further research into sustainable raw materials. Right now, the production, and the market, for sustainable biofuel is extremely limited. KLM has been working to develop the market for biofuel since 2011 and is stimulating more companies in the airline industry to follow its example.

Reducing CO2 emissions
KLM is aiming to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 20% in 2020 (compared to 2010). In addition to introducing biofuel, it is also employing a fleet renewal programme and more efficient flight operations to achieve its goal. Other partners in the Corporate BioFuel Programme include ABN AMRO, Accenture, FrieslandCampina, the City of Amsterdam, Loyens & Loeff, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, PGGM, and the Schiphol Group.

KLM only purchases biofuels made from raw materials that have no negative environmental impact on biodiversity or food production. Sustainable biofuels are purchased through SkyNRG and are tested by the SkyNRG Sustainability Board. SkyNRG is certified by the Roundtable of Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB).

Collaboration between KLM and Delft University
In March, KLM and the Delft University of Technology signed a cooperative agreement under the name of Design Doing at Royal Dutch Airlines. The aim of this particular effort is to develop new products and to optimise existing KLM processes in a live operational KLM environment – that is, involving real passengers at a real airport in real aircraft. In this way, KLM will show its deep dedication to applying Design Thinking.

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