Qantas and Air New Zealand have both signed significant agreements pledging to take advantage of sustainable fuels.
The Australian flag carrier has signed a deal with BP to “explore opportunities” to utilise advanced sustainable fuels, while Air New Zealand has agreed “in principle” to back the country’s biofuel mandate to lower carbon emissions.
The joint development underlines the industry’s pre-COVID resolve to tackle perceptions that they are a leading contributor to global warming.
Qantas and BP said in a statement they would form a strategic partnership to advance their shared net zero ambitions:
“Through the collaboration, the companies will work together on opportunities to reduce carbon emissions in the aviation sector and contribute to the development of a sustainable aviation fuel industry in Australia.
“The two companies have agreed to explore ways in which BP’s global capabilities, skills and knowledge can support Qantas’ industry-leading sustainability and environmental strategy.
“Jointly, the teams will explore opportunities and projects in areas including advanced sustainable fuels, advocacy for further decarbonisation in the aviation sector, renewable power solutions and generation, carbon management and emerging technology.”
Andrew Parker, who heads up Qantas sustainability push, said, “Even though we have been flying a lot less, we’ve actually seen the same proportion of customers choosing to offset their domestic travel during the pandemic – showing that this issue remains top of mind for people.
“Airlines globally have a responsibility to cut emissions and combat climate change, particularly once travel demand starts to return.
“The Qantas Group has set some ambitious targets to be net carbon neutral by 2050 and while offsetting emissions is a big part of that in the next few years, longer term initiatives like building a sustainable aviation fuel sector in Australia, are key.”
Separately, Air New Zealand said it has agreed to back the government’s mandate to reduce carbon emissions in the transport sector.
Chief executive Greg Foran called the nation’s commitment as a step forward for the whole sector.
“It’s great news for New Zealand and great news for the future of travel and our key export industries, which rely on low carbon air transport,” said Foran.
“We flew the world’s first commercial aviation test flight powered by a sustainable second-generation biofuel in 2008, and today’s announcement brings us a step closer to making commercial flights powered by sustainable aviation fuels a reality.
“While we see hydrogen-powered or electric aircraft as viable options for our domestic and short haul network, being able to access sustainable aviation fuels at a competitive price will be very important for us when it comes to decarbonising our long haul operations.”
The announcements come as the aviation industry worldwide comes under increasing pressure to reduce its carbon footprint – earlier in 2020, for instance, a British court ruled London Heathrow couldn’t build a third runway because of environmental concerns.
Meanwhile, in August 2020, Melbourne Airport said it would switch on its enormous solar farm this month, following similar projects installed at Karratha, Adelaide and Brisbane.