Qan­tas to use bio­fuel blend on LA planes


Qan­tas Air­ways air­craft based in Los An­ge­les will use a re­new­able bio­fuel blend from 2020.

The air­line said yes­ter­day it would buy 8 mil­lion gal­lons of the fuel each year, for the next decade, from United States bio-en­ergy com­pany SG Pre­ston.

Qan­tas tri­alled do­mes­tic bio­fuel flights in 2012.

The fuel is 50 per cent re­new­able and is pro­duced from non­food plant oils, blended with 50 per cent tra­di­tional jet fuel.

The bio­fuel would be used by Qan­tas’ Air­bus A380, Boe­ing 747-400 and Boe­ing 787-9 long-haul air­craft de­part­ing Los An­ge­les.

Com­pared with stan­dard jet fuel, the bio­fuel blend emits half the amount of car­bon emis­sions per gal­lon over its life cy­cle, Qan­tas Air­ways’ chief ex­ec­u­tive of in­ter­na­tional and freight, Gareth Evans, said

‘‘Through our bio­fuel pro­gramme we are also ex­plor­ing re­new­able jet fuel op­por­tu­ni­ties in Aus­tralia and con­tinue to work with sup­pli­ers to de­velop lo­cally pro­duced bio­fu­els for avi­a­tion use,’’ Evans said.

MIchael Gill, who is the en­vi­ron­ment di­rec­tor of the In­ter­na­tional Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion (IATA), ap­plauded Qan­tas and SG Pre­ston, say­ing the deal was ‘‘the first com­mer­cial bio­fuel [use] for an Aus­tralian air­line’’.

‘‘Deals such as these are crit­i­cal to the de­vel­op­ment of an avi­a­tion bio­fuel sec­tor glob­ally and the achieve­ment of the avi­a­tion in­dus­try’s cli­mate goals,’’ Gill said.

Closer to home, Air New Zealand and Vir­gin Aus­tralia linked up in 2016 to in­ves­ti­gate whether an avi­a­tion bio­fuel could be pro­duced lo­cally.

They re­ceived more than 30 re­sponses from or­gan­i­sa­tions in Aus­tralia, New Zealand, the US, Canada and Europe.

Air New Zealand chief ex­ec­u­tive Christo­pher Luxon told the com­pany’s an­nual share­holder meet­ing in Septem­ber that no com­mer­cially vi­able bio­fuel was avail­able yet, but said the air­line was keep­ing a close eye on de­vel­op­ments.

Air New Zealand’s an­nual sus­tain­abil­ity re­port, re­leased in early Oc­to­ber, re­it­er­ated that mes­sage.

‘‘We have learned large-scale and prac­ti­ca­ble vol­umes of bio­fuel re­main some way from be­com­ing a com­mer­cial re­al­ity, par­tic­u­larly with the cur­rent price of oil glob­ally, and in the ab­sence of clear pol­icy in­cen­tives to en­cour­age pro- duc­tion in Aus­trala­sia. We are, how­ever, con­tin­u­ing to ex­plore op­tions for New Zealand man­u­fac­ture, work­ing with po­ten­tial tech­nol­ogy and fuel sup­ply chain part­ners,’’ the re­port said.

Glob­ally air­lines looked to bio­fuel as a po­ten­tially cheaper al­ter­na­tive when the price of oil reached record lev­els in 2008, threat­en­ing their prof­its.

Qan­tas will use a bio­fuel blend on its Los An­ge­les-based planes from 2020.

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