Time short as airlines pitch fuel tax credit extension

By Emma Dumain, Garrett Downs | 05/03/2024 06:22 AM EDT

Airline executives say a sustainable aviation fuel credit sunset provision would have consequences for climate goals.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wants to extend the sustainable aviation fuel credit. Other lawmakers are not so sure. Francis Chung/POLITICO

Players in the aviation industry, among the world’s top polluters, are setting ambitious decarbonization goals. But two major airlines with public pledges to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 say they’re likely to fall short without help from Congress.

At issue are a pair of Inflation Reduction Act tax credits intended to boost the production of sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF, over the next five years — a time span both United Airlines and American Airlines contend isn’t long enough to guarantee they’ll be able to meet their emissions reduction targets.

“I would say that would be extremely difficult,” Tom Michels, government affairs director at United, said of whether the airline would be able to honor its net-zero promise without an SAF tax credit extension.


Jill Blickstein, vice president for sustainability at American, was also candid, saying, “We’re not seeing the acceleration — we’re not seeing the pace in development — of the SAF market that we will need to reach our goals.”