The first Emirates flights operating with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) provided by Shell Aviation have taken off from Dubai International Airport (DXB). 


Emirates said its flight EK 412, bound for Sydney on October 24, was among the first to operate with SAF.


Shell has supplied 315,000 gallons of blended SAF for use at the airline's hub in Dubai.


"This first-ever supply of SAF to Emirates in Dubai has enabled the airline to power a number of missions over the course of the last few weeks," the announcement said.


Emirates noted that the blended SAF supplied by Shell into the DXB airport fuelling system was comprised of a ratio of 40% neat SAF and 60% conventional Jet A-1 fuel.


The chemical characteristics at this ratio are identical to conventional jet fuel and can seamlessly be integrated into the existing airport fuel infrastructure as well as in the engines of the entire Emirates fleet with no modifications required.


In its neat form, SAF reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% over its life cycle when compared with conventional jet fuel.


"We're pushing ahead with proactive measures to enable more sustainable flying now and in the future, and powering flights from our Dubai hub is just one of the steps we've taken to reduce emissions and concretely help our customers minimise their own carbon footprint," said Sir Tim Clark, president Emirates Airlines.


"We still have a long road ahead, and we hope that our partnership with Shell Aviation inspires more producers to address the supply gaps and make SAF readily available in major hubs like Dubai, as well as other points on our network," he added.


Earlier this year, Emirates and Shell signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore areas of collaboration around sustainable travel and technology-driven travel experiences.


Emirates and Shell agreed to jointly evaluate mechanisms to reduce travel emissions for Shell's business travel requirements, and the airline is currently using the Avelia platform to enable transparent tracking of the scope 1 environmental benefits of SAF it has purchased.


This year, the airline announced the establishment of a US$200 million fund for research and development (R&D) projects focussed on reducing the impact of fossil fuels in commercial aviation, representing one of the biggest single commitments of any airline on sustainability.


Over the next three years, Emirates will identify partnerships with leading organisations working on solutions in advanced fuel and energy technologies.  


Emirates operated the region's first 100% SAF-powered demonstration flight in January.