Turkish Airlines Offers the Most International Flights. Here’s How SAF Factors In.


Turkish Airlines celebrates its sustainability commitments with a new plane wrap design.

In February, Turkish Airlines announced it started using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), with its first eco-powered flight going from Istanbul to Paris.

“By increasing the efficiency of fuels, which account for 99.8 percent of our total greenhouse gas emissions. We will enable animal species that are on the verge of extinction to coexist with our future generations,” Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee Ahmet Bolat, said in a statement.

Like all airlines using SAF, there are limitations on percentage per tank. But those allowances continue to increase. In France, all airlines refueling in the country must include one percent SAF. Air France currently replaces 0.5 percent and one percent of all kerosene with sustainable fuel options. The aim is to steadily increase the ratio. The goal is to reach five percent by 2030, increasing to 63 percent by 2050, the airline said.

In December, the first SAF flight took off from Chicago to Washington D.C., running on 50 percent sustainable fuel, the current permitted limit in the U.S.

SAF will be used once a week on Turkish Airline flights to Oslo, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, London and Stockholm, increasing over time. The environmentally friendly fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 87 percent compared to kerosene-based fuel.

“Together with Bogazici University, we are running the Microalgae Based Sustainable Bio-Jet Fuel Project (MICRO-JET). Within the scope of the project, we will use this biofuel, which will be obtained from sustainable sources in 2022, in our flights after the engine tests to be carried out by Turkish Technic,” Bolat said.


Turkish Airlines says it’s committed to increasing its SAF percentage. To celebrate its shift, it revealed a plane wrapped in a biofuel banner earlier this week. The special design element is adorned with leaves on its Airbus 321 type TC-JSU tail numbered aircraft and made its maiden voyage on a flight to Stockholm.

“As the national flag carrier of Turkiye, our newly designed aircraft is now in the skies to underline the importance of sustainability for us,” Bolat said.

“With the biofuel expression on our aircraft, we wish to emphasize the significance of using sustainable aviation fuel as it is one of the biggest hurdles of aviation industry’s struggle against carbon emissions. Thus, we are supporting the biofuel manufacturing efforts and aim to increase our flights which use biofuel during their operations,” he added.

Inside the plane, the airline also took sustainability measures as part of its Green Class concept. Amenities included paper cups and flatware, environmentally friendly pillow covers and blankets as well as FSC-certified wood toys for children.

Turkish Airlines sustainability

The SAF is part of Turkish Airlines’ efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. The company says it has more than 100 projects in the works aimed at reducing its CO2 impact.

Photo by Jairph on Unsplash

One of the ways it measures its impact in part by trees saved; reducing airline fuel was equal to planting nearly 300,000 trees, the airline said. It also saved more than 6,700 trees last year by avoiding water contamination.

A single-engine taxi method, route optimizations, and flight center of gravity during planning to operations, have helped meet the benchmarks.

Turkish Technic’s C/D hangar, one of the service locations of the company, is Turkey’s biggest aircraft maintenance facility. It stores and treats rainwater for reuse, reducing its impact on the local water supply. Last year saw 54 percent of its water come from rainfall.

Turkish Airlines flies to more countries than any other airline in the world—including 300 destinations across five continents—which is also a driving factor behind its environmental commitments.

“Protecting the future of these regions [destinations] that possess unique beauty with their natural, historical, financial, or cultural assets is a significant matter for Turkish Airlines family,” said Bolat.

Sustainability efforts for the airline cover four key areas: humanity, world improvement, and management function.

Turkish Airlines sustainable
Courtesy Alireza Akhlaghi via Unsplash

“While carrying many to these wonders every day, we also wish to carry these rare works of our world to the future intact. With this perspective, we are optimising all of our operations with sustainable endeavors and protect our world for the future generations,” added Bolat.

“Turkish Airlines will continue to fly in the blue of the sky for the green of the ground.”

In January, Turkey announced efforts to increase its sustainability commitments. The Environmental Protection Agency is on track to develop a zero-waste management project to improve its recycling efforts. The Zero Waste Project launched by First Lady Emine Erdoğan’s currently recycles more than 24 million tons of trash per year. The country is aiming for a 60 percent recycling recovery rate of 60 percent by 2035.


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