Starting January 2022, Australian carrier Qantas will purchase blended sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for its flights out of London. This will make it the first Australian carrier to purchase SAF on an ongoing basis for regular scheduled services, Qantas said on December 14, 2021.

The airline has signed an agreement with its strategic partner bp to purchase 10 million liters of SAF in 2022 with an option to purchase up to another 10 million liters in 2023 and 2024 for flights from Heathrow Airport. This represents up to 15%  of Qantas’ annual fuel use out of London.

The SAF used will be a blend of certified bio feedstock from used cooking oil and other waste products, mixed with normal jet fuel. 

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Image from Qantas website

“We know that climate change is incredibly important for our customers, employees and investors and it is a major focus for the national carrier as we come out of a difficult couple of years,” Qantas Group Chief Sustainability Officer Andrew Parker said in a press statement.

“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.”

Parker also said that sustainable aviation fuel was key to Qantas meeting its target of net zero emissions by 2050 and its interim target, which will be released in the first half 2022.

“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,” Parker added.

The use of SAF is increasing globally, especially in the US and Europe, although quantities remain limited. The FAA, in particular, has granted $14.4 million to teams at 13 universities across the USA to undertake research critical to building a sustainable aviation system.

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In November 2021, Qantas announced a Green membership tier in its frequent flyer program, which will reward members for making sustainable choices at home and when they travel.

Qantas is in discussions about accessing 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. 

“Given the importance of aviation to Australia, and the distances we travel, there’s a huge opportunity to build a local SAF industry here. 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,” Parker said.