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Qantas to fund Australia’s first sustainable aviation fuel facility

written by Adam Thorn | March 30, 2023

Seth Jaworski shot this Qantas A380, VH-OQL, in Sydney before it went into storage.

Qantas and Airbus will jointly invest $2 million to help create what will likely be the first sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production facility in Australia.

The site in Queensland will transform agricultural by-products, including sugarcane, into up to 100 million litres of SAF annually. Construction is expected to start as soon as next year.

The Flying Kangaroo said the money would be used for a feasibility study and “early-stage project development” but told reporters on Thursday it’s confident the project will go ahead.

It follows Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce last year declaring that “competitive” Australians should be beating other nations to produce large quantities of SAF and pledging to invest $50 million to support establishing a local industry.

The new deal will see the Qantas Group and Airbus jointly tip in $2 million of an initial $6 million capital raising, with the Queensland government contributing $760,000.


It’s hoped other Australian and international institutional funds will provide additional funding to make the project a reality.

Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles called the project a “game changer”.

“With our rich supply of feedstock, Queensland is in the perfect position to capitalise on the global shift to green jet fuels and become the leader of a local SAF industry,” Miles said.

“It’s exciting to think Queensland could be producing the millions of litres of SAF needed to power flights across Australia and around the globe, creating more regional jobs in the process.

“This is another signal to the world that Queensland is ready for take-off as a clean energy powerhouse.”

Today, SAFs tend to come from natural sources and are then mixed with traditional jet fuel to ease the environmental burden. All Airbus aircraft can already fly with an SAF blend of up to 50 per cent.

Qantas previously said it hoped to see 60 per cent of all its fuel be derived from SAF by 2050, with an interim goal of 10 per cent by 2030. The airline also hopes to be a net zero operation by 2050.

Speaking at the CBA’s Sustainability Conference last year, Joyce argued the country should be taking advantage of its huge landmass to develop SAFs, often derived from used cooking oil and other waste products.

“Australians are the most competitive people I’ve ever come across,” Joyce said. “We should be leading the world on this. We should be making it into a World Cup. I think we’d win if that were the case.”

Joyce has previously been a big advocate of encouraging more production of SAFs in Australia, branding it a “huge opportunity” that would create “a huge amount of jobs”.

“It’s a shame if Qantas meets its 10 per cent sustainable aviation fuel target in 2030 by just buying it offshore. That would be terrible outrage in my mind, and it’s a terrible dropping of the ball in Australia.”

The Flying Kangaroo currently purchases its sustainable fuel from overseas, including 10 million litres for flights out of London annually.

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