Cepsa and Iberia Group seal strategic alliance to decarbonize air transport.

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The presidents of Iberia and Iberia Express and the CEO of Cepsa signed an agreement on Monday to advance in the decarbonization of the airline industry, through the development and research of sustainable fuels and other energy alternatives such as renewable hydrogen and electricity, to promote sustainable mobility of aircraft and the fleet of vehicles that serve them at airports.

For the three companies, the development of sustainable source fuels (SAF) is a priority to continue moving towards an increasingly low-carbon industry and thus contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. This project, which includes research and flight testing with SAFs, contributes to Sustainable Development Goals 7 (Ensure access to affordable, secure, sustainable and modern energy), 8 (Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work) and 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts).

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Cepsa is working on an ambitious plan to turn all its businesses green and become a benchmark for energy transition in its sector. In addition, the company has extensive experience in this field: it has been producing biofuels in its industrial centers for more than 10 years and is carrying out pioneering studies worldwide to convert waste and used oils into fuels of renewable origin with high energy value.

For Maarten Wetselaar, CEO of Cepsa, “this alliance shows Cepsa’s commitment to sustainability and our firm determination to support our customers by providing them with viable solutions that accelerate their energy transition. As a benchmark in the supply of fuels for the airline industry, we share with the Iberia Group the common goal of promoting the decarbonization of transport as a tool in the fight against climate change”.

As part of the IAG Group, Iberia and Iberia Express are committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, and to operate a minimum of 10% of their flights with sustainably sourced fuels by 2030.

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To achieve this, the Iberia Group is developing its environmental strategy on three pillars: more efficient operations, including all fleet renewal initiatives, fuel consumption reduction and electrification of its vehicles, among others; a more sustainable travel experience for its customers, through the digitalization of services, the progressive elimination of plastics on board, the development of its waste management system and carbon footprint offsetting; and its commitment to the ecological transition of aviation, especially through its collaboration in the research and development of sustainably sourced fuels.

“For the decarbonization of the airline industry, it is essential to develop, produce and distribute sustainably sourced fuels at affordable prices and in sufficient quantities to supply airlines. We are confident that this agreement with Cepsa will contribute to this goal,” said Javier Sánchez-Prieto, Iberia’s president and CEO.

For its part, Iberia Express, as a short- and medium-haul low-cost airline within the Iberia Group, will also support the transition to alternative sources of aircraft propulsion as part of this initiative. For Carlos Gómez, CEO of Iberia Express, “it is time to create synergies between companies that have the same objective, to be able to develop our business and operations while minimizing our ecological impact. This agreement is an important step on this path towards more sustainable air transport, in line with our joint commitment to the decarbonization of the sector”.

Sustainable fuels

Biofuels for aviation have a key role to play in the decarbonization of tourism and air transport. Compared to conventional fuel, PBS can reduce aviation emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional kerosene over its entire life cycle, according to the International Air Transport Association.

They also bring other benefits: they boost the circular economy, increase energy independence (and, with it, security of supply), ensure the maintenance of an important driver of the Spanish economy (200,000 quality jobs) and can be used immediately without the need to renew the fleet and taking advantage of current supply infrastructures.

In order to achieve the goal of zero carbon emissions growth from 2020, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is promoting the use of sustainable biofuels, among other initiatives, for their significant CO2 reduction.

This agreement between Cepsa and the Iberia Group is in line with the European Commission’s Fit for 55 package, which includes a legislative initiative called ‘RefuelEU Aviation’, which aims to boost the supply and demand of aviation biofuels in the European Union, reaching a use of 2% in 2025, 5% in 2030 and 63% in 2050.

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