Qantas will use greener aviation fuels on its flights from London to lower its carbon emissions.
The fuel is four times more expensive than regular aviation fuel, however, the cost will not be passed onto customers.
Qantas group chief sustainability officer Andrew Parker said “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.”
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Qantas will pay for 10 million litres of sustainable aviation fuel from next year in order to lower carbon emissions on flights from London.
Although the move will increase the airlines’ fuel bill, the extra cost will not be passed onto passengers flying out of the UK in the form of higher airfares.
Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) currently costs four times that of conventional jet fuel, but as production increases the price is expected to fall significantly.
Qantas group chief sustainability officer Andrew Parker said SAF was the key to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, and government and industry overseas were investing heavily to build their own SAF industries.
“Given the importance of aviation to Australia, and the distances we travel, there’s a huge opportunity to build a local SAF industry here,” Mr Parker said.
“The Qantas Group would be its biggest customer and we’ve already committed $50m in seed funding, but it’s going to take a concerted effort from industry and government to make this happen.”
Before the Covid pandemic, Qantas’s annual fuel bill was in the order of $3.8bn. That fell to $835m in the last financial year.
The purchase of SAF for flights from Heathrow was part of a deal with strategic partner BP, and came with an option to buy another 10 million litres in 2023 and 2024.
Produced from used cooking oil and other waste products, the SAF would be blended with normal jet fuel to reduce emissions by about 10 per cent.
Qantas and Virgin Australia are among several airlines to have trialled flights using SAF, including one across the Pacific powered by biofuel derived from mustard seeds.
Mr Parker said the technology was tried and tested and could be used in aircraft Qantas had now, including Boeing 787-9s and A380s flown on London routes.
“Zero emissions 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,” Mr Parker said.
“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.”
Air BP chief executive Martin Thomsen said selling SAF to Qantas at London Heathrow demonstrated not only the aim of both companies towards decarbonising aviation, but doing so at one of the most important airports in the world.
“Our aspiration at Air BP is to become a leader in the supply of SAF and we are committed to working with customers to scale up its use,” Mr Thomsen said.
“We believe it is one of the key routes to reducing carbon emissions in the aviation industry.”
Next year, Qantas will also introduce a “green tier” to its frequent-flyer program for members who meet criteria demonstrating their commitment to sustainable living. These include buying carbon offsets for flights, household and vehicle emissions, supporting sustainable research projects and purchasing environmentally friendly products from Qantas partners.
In return, the “green” frequent flyers will be rewarded with exclusive offers and extra points or status credits.