PRO SKY partnership helps scale-up SAF

Four flights for the Rugby World Cup 2023 flew with Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), thanks to a collaboration promoted by PRO SKY, involving TotalEnergies, AvantiAir, SkyAlps and the World Cup organisation. By flying with 30% biofuel, these flights facilitated investment in new technologies while preventing soil and water pollution.

Author: Lorelyne Lejay

Published: Last updated:


4 min. Reading time
SAF flights Rugby World Cup 2023 PRO SKY people in front of the aircraft

From the outset, Rugby World Cup was resolute in its efforts to ensure the ethical integrity of the tournament. This meant social and environmental action – on and off the field – and travel was no exception. So, when PRO SKY applied and won the tender to be the exclusive provider of group flights for the Rugby World Cup 2023, our key question was “How can sports bring that many people together with the lowest possible environmental impact? “.


SAF was not our first (and only) trump card

When developing the full travel plan for the tournament, our group flight experts combined charter and scheduled flights with train and bus trips. Our objective was to minimize unnecessary emissions in short-distance routes. For the flights themselves, PRO SKY partnered with SkyAlps and AvantiAir. Unlike scheduled flights (for which airlines typically dictate most service conditions), charter flights allow PRO SKY to create the entire service from the ground up, granting us more decision-making autonomy. PRO SKY chose to use that to amplify the environmental initiatives of our service, making it possible to not only meet, but surpass the Rugby World Cup requirements.

All about fuel – Turboprops and SAF

There is no way to deny the environmental footprint associated with flying, as there is no doubt what the main contributors are: type of fuel used and fuel efficiency. Whether we consider fuel sourcing, its production process, or the pollutants generated during combustion, fuel is indeed one of the keys to cleaner flights. That is why PRO SKY advocates for cleaner, more efficient aircrafts, as well as for the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel:

  1. Our team chose turboprops rather than jets, which are considered more environmentally friendly, since they use less fuel, especially on short flights at lower cruising speeds and altitudes, representing between 20% and 40% reduction in emissions.
  2. As it’s usually comprised of waste and residues (e.g. used cooking oils and animal fats), SAF is a biofuel that can reduce up to 80% of emissions over its whole lifecycle when compared to conventional fossil fuels.
SAF flights Rugby World Cup 2023 AvantiAir flight

Take-off as a vision, landing as a reality

At the moment, the cost of biofuels is significantly higher than that of conventional Jet-A1 fuel which, in general, prevents a wider adoption of the SAF solution. Fortunately, one of the main supporters of this PRO SKY initiative was TotalEnergies, a sponsor of the Rugby World Cup. As a SAF producer itself, TotalEnergies recognized the importance of investing in SAF today, to pave the way for a more affordable and widespread use in the future. With that challenge in mind, TotalEnergies decided to extend the initial scope of their sponsorship, so it could also cover SAF costs for Rugby World Cup flights. Avantiair and SkyAlps provided financial support as well to see this initiative through.

SAF flights Rugby World Cup 2023 SkyAlps aircraft

The next step consisted of identifying the flights in which SAF could be directly uplifted. To actually maximize emissions reductions in such cases, fuel transportation must be kept to the minimum, so we made sure to use it in airports that had the necessary infrastructure and were located near SAF refineries. TotalEnergies was able to identify four flights that could benefit from this sponsorship, either departing from Bordeaux or Saint-Nazaire. For these flights, a blend of 30% SAF with 70% conventional fuel was used. At the moment, aircrafts are not allowed to fly with more than 50% of SAF and, in most cases, they fly with up to 30%.

The flights took place between 11 September and 23 September, and both airlines were awarded with a certificate afterwards, which attested to the quality of the biofuel, as well as the actual amount of emissions prevented.

SAF is just the beginning

The collaboration between PRO SKY and these four entities has set a remarkable precedent, not only for European commercial charter flights, but also for future worldwide events which depend on our ability to bring everyone together in one place. Events like these provide unique opportunities for individuals and organisations, as well as for the countries themselves. That is why we are certain that, although this collaboration involved many back-and-forth discussions over a long period of time, it was important to encourage other players in the market to do the same, as well as to make the public more aware of how their concerns can be addressed if they know who to demand action from.

A plane flying over a forest

Join the movement!

If you would like to add SAF to your next group flight with PRO SKY, be sure to learn more about how it works and how PRO SKY can help you. Our Project Managers will do the heavy-lifting for you, by finding airlines, routes, planes – and now fuels! – that are just miles ahead.

PRO tip: you can use your SAF certificate for carbon accounting, compensation or communication purposes. Get in touch for more advice on SAF.


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