As per latest reports, the government of India is encouraging airlines, airports and ground handlers to adopt ways to reduce their carbon emissions. Niti Aayog – the government think tank – has identified Indian aviation industry among those that need to cut down their carbon emissions primarily, and is pushing towards increasing the production and use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). Using cost reduction to facilitate the adoption and production of SAF, Niti Aayog has suggested a 5% GST on SAF and a waiver on charges like passenger fees and user development fees (charged by airports) for flights which are operated with SAF. Aviation fuel is currently outside the purview of the GST regime and the excise duty on it ranges from 14% to 32% depending on states. The think tank in its suggestion has also said the government give investment support to encourage oil marketing companies to produce SAF.
On the other hand, a policy that defines the standards of ground handling equipment is being formulated by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The policy shall also define the maximum age to deploy such equipment at airports. Airports have also been asked by the MoCA to switch to electric vehicles and equipment for ground handling activity.
India has a target to get 50% of its energy from renewable resources and reduce total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes by 2030.
Çelebi Aviation is one of the prominent ground handlers at airports like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, and are planning to completely electrify their ground handling vehicles and equipment. Çelebi is among the first companied to introduce taxibots at Indian airports. Taxibots help airlines to reduce the fuel consumption of aircrafts during taxiing, and correspondingly reduction of carbon emissions. They are semi-robotic hybrid special purpose vehicles used for air craft movement, thereby, saving many lakh litres of ATF burnt during taxiing.
“We are very happy that such a mandate has come. We are fully supporting it because this is the vision we already had as part of the company in order to reduce emission at whatever level we can. I think among various sectors, aviation is one of the primary ones which, if targeted, can lead to a significant reduction in emission.”Murali Ramachandran, CEO, Çelebi Aviation
According to Ramachandran, a taxi bot can potentially save an airline Rs 15,000-30,000 per departure.
However, it should be noted that an eminent reason for SAF being far costlier than conventional jet fuel is its limited production across the world, which again circles back to the cost factor while producing SAF. The airlines, in their discussion with the government, have pointed out that despite the policy push, unless the production cost of sustainable aviation fuel was brought down, it would be difficult to reach the targeted emission targets.