As several airlines in the world make their debut with sustainable aviation fuel, what innovative strategies can Maldives adopt to promote the use of sustainable aviation fuel and reduce carbon emissions in the aviation sector? For example, in early 2022, Maldivian acquired fuel-efficient aircraft for domestic operations.

PUBLISHED June 05, 2023

Thoha Ibrahim
Deputy Managing Director
Maldives Airports Company Limited
Maldives has committed to the Paris agreement and submitted a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), in which: Maldives adopted a conditional emissions reduction target of 26% by 2030 compared to business as usual. The country also aspires to achieve net zero by 2030 depending on the international support received. The World Bank has supported the government through the Accelerating Sustainable Private Investment in Renewable Energy (ASPIRE) project and the recently launched Accelerating Renewable Energy Integration and Sustainable Energy (ARISE) project. Considering the above, MACL endeavors to explore the possibilities of contributing to the NDC via providing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) to the airlines requesting SAF. In 2022, Maldives also participated in the three-day workshop under the EU-South Asia Aviation Partnership Project Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
As a low lying country and one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, we need to be a leader in promoting sustainability in the aviation sector. SAF is already being used in Europe in the GA sector, which contributes to a lower carbon footprint. We can have state-offer grants or subsidies to airlines who take initiative for SAF. Apart from that, airlines can seek various newer models of aircraft which are more fuel efficient. Apart from using SAF, there are various ways to offset the carbon footprints from the current system. Studies show digitalization of fueling in aviation saves time and allows pilots to make small adjustments which saves fuel. Additionally, we need to opt to maximize the use of electric GSE’s in the airports; especially the smaller ones which have lower traffic and implement a system to utilize ways to capture renewable energy to power the airports. Similar to Cochin airport; one of the first airports to be powered by solar energy.
ATRs used by us are fuel efficient ones. As you know, we will be dictated by the industry growth and directions. There are some small electric powered aircrafts being tested for commercial flights across the world. If the cost of these new technologies bring it to a feasible level, the local Aviation industry will follow.
The future of the aviation industry needs to be cleaner and greener. Achieving the ambition of reaching net zero emissions while meeting the growing demand for air travel is huge a challenge, the industry must take a holistic approach, from operational efficiency to technological innovations, starting to use Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and most importantly changes in policy and regulations are needed to drive the effort in reducing carbon emission and minimize the impact on the environment. AIA plans to do its part, firstly we are conducting awareness programs on sustainability for our staff. We will also be improving operational efficiency in the airport and all our future Ground service equipment will be electric. We would be incorporating provisions for SAF in our future infrastructure development. In 2024-25 we plan to develop a renewable energy project of 20 MW PV system in GAN that will make GAN 100% carbon free in 5 years’ time.