SAF Insights: What's next for Latin America? Mar 2024

Listen to the latest podcast episode from SAF Insights as Louise Burke, Global Head of Aviation at Argus, and Jamie Escobar, Director of Fuel and Airport Changes at ALTA (Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association) look back at the recent ALTA Fuel and Sustainability Conference held March 15, 2024.

They will review key takeaways from the various panel discussions, look at future SAF and biofuels market opportunities in Colombia, discuss the most important feedstocks in the region for SAF, and thoughts on next steps for decarbonization in the region.



Jaime Escobar 

ALTA Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association

Head of Fuel, User Charges and Environment

He returned to ALTA after 12 years to coordinate the Aviation Fuel Committee, the Airport Charges area and the Environment Committee in the association, based in Miami, Florida. With experience of more than 30 years in the industry, he has worked in the Civil Aviation Authority of Colombia on three different administrations where he served as Secretary of Operational Systems, Financial Director, and Manager of the Eldorado Airport Second Runway Project. At the headquarters of ALTA (Latin American Air Transport Association) in Miami he served as Special Projects Manager for four years. At the regional office of IATA (International Air Transport Association) in Miami, he served as Manager of User Charges for seven years. He also worked as Controller and Country Sales Manager for American Airlines in Colombia for five years. His passion is the history of commercial aviation and airports with emphasis in Colombia and Latin America. 



Louise Burke: Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of SAF Insights.Today we'll look at developments in Latin America and get a recent perspective on how the region is moving forward on decarbonization with sustainable, sustainable aviation fuel. We'll talk about challenges and opportunities in the region. I'm Louise Burke, vice president of global Aviation and North American Renewables and with and joining me today is Jaime Escobar. And Jaime is head of fuel and environment for ALTA, which is the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association. So Jaime returned to ALTA. I guess after 12 years in the business, he's has more than 30 years in the industry and he's worked in many different aspects of the aviation sector, so lots of expertise that we're going to try to take advantage of, Jaime. So welcome. And I wanted to recently chat about the organization that you're in that held a very successful fuel and Sustainability conference. I guess it was the middle of March in Bogota. You had a great panel on stakeholders really discussing the future of SAF in LATAM. What were the main conclusions? Would you say?

Jaime Escobar: Thank you, Louise, and good morning everybody. Umm yes. Uh, two weeks ago we had this big conference in Bogota, Colombia with record attendance of airlines, stakeholders and government officials and we had basically 3 conclusions that we would like to share. The first one, of course, is how happy we are that the Colombian Government has finally taken into consideration the importance of having a legal framework for the. Production commercialization and in investment in staff in the country. Finally they are. Leading the work, the working tables together with all governments, stakeholders and also with the industry. That means the airlines and the suppliers, and we've already had four or five meetings in Bogota regarding what the government wants to do within the next few months. So hopefully by the end of the year, Colombia will have a set. Industry and. Framework for the future of self. Also, we had several other countries participating in the conference that also they're also looking into the future of SAF and only now they they have come up and and gave us their perspectives. We have people from Mexico, from Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, and of course the idea is that we as Latin American countries will have a special mindset, different from what the United States needs or Europe or Europe needs. I will have a combined mindset for the region, so that's going to be very interesting in the in the near future.

Louise Burke: That's great.It's great to hear about Columbia.I know umm bio D was on one of the panels, so that was exciting to see that you do have certain SAF plants that are that are planned for Columbia and then for other countries in the region. So just turning to a very specific area that I think that Latin America has a key advantage, which is feedstocks, we did hear a lot of discussion about feedstocks in the region. They we have the HEFA SAF plants, of course that we know that are the majority of the planned plants. But we also have the up and coming alcohol to jet SAF.Do you find that the feedstock stakeholders in the region are committed to supporting staff and do they need incentives or love to hear your perspective on that?

Jaime Escobar: Well, yes, Colombia and other Latin American countries, as you know, are very agricultural minded. We have all the resources, we have, the land, we have the crops and of course the association. Like the power not sociation the sugar cane associations, they're also looking very closely into the future of SAF. However, they're still looking for the certification of the product so that there is that it's going to be finally recognized by CORSIA in, in, in Europe, so that the production of staff from these feet socks is actually recognized and can be used in the end product as regards to alcohol, you very well know of course that Brazil, Argentina and the Southern cone countries are very advanced in this issue and alcohol to jet is going to be something very hot in the next months and years, especially in Brazil where they're going to start and producing SAF out of ethanol and other alcohol related.

Louise Burke: No, and that's really interesting, prospect for Latin America because we know Argus has a global SAF capacity database and we do see by the end of the decade that the alcohol to jet is going to be very key as we move forward on the next steps, and we bring in those additional feedstocks. I do have a question because I find that when we look at some of the South American plants that announcements that are made identify that the SAF may be going elsewhere, it might be going to Europe or somewhere else. So, how do you see the next step in the region to help decarbonise the jet fuel? I mean, do we need more policy policies put in place by different countries and what do you what are your thoughts and final conclusions that you think would help the region develop SAF domestically?

Jaime Escobar: Basically what we need in our country is incentives.For the investors, production incentives for the actual commercialization of SAF, because what that's what we've seen recently is that the only SAF that is going to be produced in the next few years is already sold to European markets.And what we need, of course, is mass production of SAF in Latin America with all the resources that we have. So that may be the price will eventually come down and the airlines will have access to the new production locally, but if not, what we see is that the very little SAF that's going to be produced in Latin America will probably be exported to North America or Europe as we've seen of the first production plant in Paraguay within the next few months.

Louise Burke: Yea, and of course, we do want to see SAF produced in all regions. So we look forward to hearing more about the policy changes and perhaps again the stakeholders really committing to producing within the region. So of course, Jaime, your organization works very closely with all the stakeholders to make that happen. Thank you for that interesting discussion. We look forward to the next session, lots to pay attention to in Latin America.So for our listeners, if you enjoyed this podcast, please be sure to tune in for other episodes in our series, SAF Insights, and For more information on Argus Global coverage of the Sustainable aviation fuel market, please visit Thank you.