LONDON – In a landmark agreement, Qantas and Airbus are to invest up to US$200 million to boost the establishment of an Australian sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry.
The formalising of the Australian Sustainable Fuel Partnership between the two partners was signed by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury in Doha today.
The lack of SAF industry in Australia
There is presently no commercial-scale SAF industry in Australia. The nation currently exports millions of tonnes of feedstock to other countries, for processing into SAF.
As a result, the Australian flag carrier is forced to acquire SAF stocks from overseas. Qantas is currently committed to using SAF as 10% of its overall fuel mix by 2030.
The new partnership will cultivate locally developed SAF and feedstock initiatives.
SAF benefits – reduced carbon emissions & no engine modification
A key benefit of sustainable fuels is the ability to cut greenhouse gas emissions by around 80 per cent compared to traditional kerosene.
This means SAF is perhaps the most significant tool airlines currently have to reduce their impact on the environment.
A major operational benefit lies in the fact that given they can be used in today’s aircraft engines with no modifications.
Qantas fleet changes and sustainability
Airbus and Qantas agreed to work together on the sustainability initiative as part of the airline’s recently announced orders, including 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 Qantas Group’s Project Winton domestic fleet renewal program.
The new fleet will offer a significant reduction in fuel consumption and carbon emissions of up to 25% immediately from day one, and are all aircraft are already certified for operation using 50% SAF.
The partnership is initially for five years with options to extend the duration.
Pratt & Whitney, whose GTF engines were recently selected by Qantas for their new A220 and A320neo family aircraft, will also be contributing to the new venture.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the investment would accelerate the development of SAF in Australia – creating jobs and reducing the nation’s dependence on imported fossil fuels. He said:
“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,”
“Aviation is an irreplaceable industry, especially for a country the size of Australia, and one that’s located so far away from so much of the world. Future generations are relying on us to get this right so they too can benefit from air travel.”
“This investment will help kickstart a local biofuels industry in Australia and hopefully encourage additional investment from governments and other business and build more momentum for the industry as a whole.”
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.”
“The increased use of sustainable aviation fuels will be a key driver to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. But we can’t do this without viable industrial systems to produce and commercialise these energy sources at affordable rates and near to key hubs around the world.
“This is especially true for a country like Australia, which is geographically distant and highly reliant on aviation to remain connected both domestically and internationally.”
A bright future for Australian SAF
The combined initiative bodes well for emissions reduction, and also for the region in terms of new industry development.
CEO Guillame Faury concluded:
“The Australian Sustainable Aviation Fuel Partnership reflects the new level of partnership between Airbus and the Qantas Group and our firmly shared commitment to act as catalysts of change to ensure a bright future for our industry.”