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Opinion: Paying more for sustainable aviation fuel credits, it’s not about the action but the why

Opinion: Paying more for sustainable aviation fuel credits, it’s not about the action but the why

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The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Temasek recently launched the sale of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) credits in July 2022. This is part of a CAAS-SIA-Temasek pilot to advance the use of sustainable aviation fuel in Singapore. Would the budget consumers for budget airline, Scoot, buy the SAF credits, given their price sensitivity? My quick answer to the first question is NO. Not if the message consumers are getting is, “They are getting us to PAY MORE again!” (*Grumble. Mumble. Sigh*)

However, can the SAF credits take off? The answer is YES. Possibly so, with sustained long-term communication efforts to build this programme into one that eventually fits naturally into any traveller’s purchase pattern.

Like how he sees the value of purchasing travel insurance after getting an air ticket because he understands the importance of being protected, in case of any travel incident, he would add some SAF credits into his cart because he values the importance of his contribution toward safeguarding the environment he lives in so that he can continue to fly and travel for a long time to come.

The end in mind is to drive the adoption of SAF credits as part of a “natural” element of a traveller’s air-ticket purchase journey.

The communications strategy will really need to move away from a price-centric message of 'paying more' for an air ticket (as how it had been communicated in the article) towards a highly compelling needs-based approach.

This could be addressing questions such as the following, with engaging and creative communication executions, campaigns that spark emotions and drive engaging, positive conversations towards sustainable air travel:

  • “Why do I need to contribute to this initiative?”
  • “What I am able to contribute to the world I live in for every air-ticket I purchase?”
  • “What could possibly happen if I don’t do what I can today?”
  • “How can I do more towards sustainable air-travel?”

Having my past life marketing for an airline, I totally understand how fuel costs play such a determining factor in the aviation business. The delicate juggle the aviation industry faces over rising fuel costs (now even higher with sustainable fuel), the pressing need to look for carbon-efficient alternatives and consumer economics of price elasticity.

Educating travellers on the topic of sustainable air travel is going to be an iterative process. It is really not about passing on costs to the consumers but about their responsibility to pay their own carbon footprint since they are one of the bums in the air.

Consumers are always pragmatic when it comes to purchases. For them to adopt SAF Credits, the “What’s in it for me” will need to be articulated and communicated to them in compelling ways to get buy-in.

Communicate by embarking on this journey with them- to move their mindset from where they are at today (“I just want a ticket at the best possible price”) towards a positive tomorrow (“I MUST and NEED to do my part so that air travel can be sustainable for years to come.”)

Let us all move beyond paying more. Let us all move towards helping the aviation industry thrive. Sustainably, no less.

The writer is Sharon Koh, MD, Digital Studio by APRW.

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