Airbus and Qantas joint investment to kickstart Australian biofuels industry

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The Qantas Group and Airbus will invest up to US$200 million to accelerate the establishment of a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry in Australia in a landmark agreement.

The Australian Sustainable Aviation Fuel Partnership was signed in Doha today by Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce and Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury ahead of the IATA AGM.

Due to the lack of a local commercial-scale SAF industry, Australia is currently exporting millions of tonnes of feedstock every year, such as canola and animal tallow to be made into SAF in other countries.

New Airbus A321XLR makes its fir.t flight.

The Qantas Group, which has committed to using 10 per cent SAF in its overall fuel mix by 2030, is sourcing SAF overseas, including 15 percent of its fuel use out of London currently and 20 million litres each year for flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Australia from 2025.

Sustainable fuels cut greenhouse gas emissions by around 80 per cent compared to traditional kerosene and are the most significant tool airlines currently have to reduce their impact on the environment – particularly given they can be used in today’s engines with no modifications.

The Qantas and Airbus partnership will provide funding for locally developed and produced SAF and feedstock initiatives. Projects will have to be commercially viable and meet a strict set of criteria around environmental sustainability.

Airbus and Qantas agreed to work together on the sustainability initiative part of the airline’s recently announced orders. These include the A350-1000 to operate ‘Project Sunrise’ non-stop flights from Australia to New York and London and the selection of the A220 and A321XLR under the carrier’s ‘Project Winton’ domestic fleet renewal, as well as lower emission aircraft for its subsidiary Jetstar.

Qantas opens a new pilot training center in Brisbane.

The new fleet will offer a significant reduction in fuel consumption and carbon emissions of up to 25% from day one and are all already certified for operation using 50% SAF.

The partnership is initially for five years with options to extend the duration. Qantas’ financial contribution to the Australian Sustainable Aviation Fuel Partnership includes AU$50 million previously committed to research and development of SAF in Australia.

Qantas has started a process of talking to its major corporate customers about their interest in accessing SAF offsets for their organisation’s flying. This input is shaping the design of a programme that could also be extended to individuals in an expansion of the existing offsetting programme Qantas already has in place. This new program is expected to launch later this calendar year.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the investment would accelerate the development of SAF in Australia, creating value for shareholders, while creating jobs and reducing the nation’s dependence on imported fuels.

“The use of SAF is increasing globally as governments and industry work together to find ways to decarbonise the aviation sector. Without swift action, Australia is at risk of being left behind,” Mr Joyce said. “With this investment, Qantas and Airbus are putting our money where our mouth is and betting on the innovation and ingenuity of Australian industry.”

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said: “Ensuring a sustainable future for our industry has become the priority for Airbus and we are taking up this challenge with partners across the world and from across all sectors.”

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