Qantas flights from London will next year partly use sustainable aviation fuel derived from used cooking oil.
In a major shift towards sustainability, the flag carrier has signed a deal with BP to purchase 10 million litres of SAF in 2022 with an option to purchase up to another 10 million litres in 2023 and 2024 for flights from Heathrow Airport.
This represents up to 15 per cent of Qantas’ annual fuel use out of the British capital and will reduce its carbon emissions by 10 per cent.
The fuel will be produced with certified bio feedstock from used cooking oil and other waste products. This is then blended with normal jet fuel.
Qantas’ chief sustainability officer, Andrew Parker, said, “Zero emission technology like electric aircraft or green hydrogen are still a very long way off for aviation, and even further away for long haul flights like London to Australia. SAF and high-quality carbon offsetting are therefore critical on the path to net zero.
“Aviation biofuels typically deliver around an 80 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis compared to the jet fuel it is replacing and is the most significant tool airlines have to reduce their impact on the environment
“The technology is already tried and tested, and it can be used in the aircraft we have now, which is why government and industry overseas are investing heavily to build their own SAF industries.”
Qantas said it is also in discussions about using SAF at its other overseas ports, such as Los Angeles, and recently joined other Oneworld airlines in signing a memorandum of understanding to use SAF for flights from San Francisco from 2024.
The business said these volume agreements are necessary to bring the cost of SAF down, which can be several times more expensive than jet kerosene.
Parker also argued that given the importance of aviation to Australia, there’s an opportunity to build a local SAF industry.
“The Qantas Group would be its biggest customer and we’ve already committed $50 million in seed funding, but it’s going to take a concerted effort from industry and government to make this happen,” he said.
Qantas and Jetstar have previously flown several demonstration flights using SAF, including a flight across the Pacific in 2018 powered by biofuel derived from mustard seeds.
However, this is the first time an Australian airline will purchase SAF on an ongoing basis.
In January, Australian Aviation reported that Qantas and Air New Zealand both signed significant agreements pledging to take advantage of sustainable fuels.
The Australian flag carrier 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.