Qantas to use biofuel blend on Los Angeles flights

Qantas will use a biofuel blend on its Los Angeles-based planes from 2020.
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Qantas will use a biofuel blend on its Los Angeles-based planes from 2020.

Qantas aircraft based in Los Angeles will use a renewable biofuel blend from 2020.

The airline said on Friday it would buy eight million gallons of the fuel each year, for the next decade, from United States bio-energy company SF Preston.

Qantas trialled domestic biofuel flights in 2012.

The fuel is 50 per cent renewable and is produced from non-food plant oils, blended with 50 per cent traditional jet fuel. 

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The biofuel would be used by Qantas' Airbus A380, Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 787-9 long-haul aircraft departing Los Angeles.

Compared to standard jet fuel, the biofuel blend emits half the amount of carbon emissions per gallon over its life cycle, Qantas chief executive of international and freight Gareth Evans said

"Through our biofuel program we are also exploring renewable jet fuel opportunities in Australia and continue to work with suppliers to develop locally produced biofuels for aviation use," Evans said.

Director of environment for IATA (the International Air Transport Association), Michael Gill applauded Qantas and SG Preston saying the deal was "the first commercial biofuel [use] for an Australian airline".

"Deals such as these are critical to the development of an aviation biofuel sector globally and the achievement of the aviation industry's climate goals."

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Closer to home, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia linked up in 2016 to investigate whether an aviation biofuel could be produced locally.

They received more than 30 responses from organisations in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada and Europe.

But Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon told the company's annual shareholder meeting in September that no commercially viable biofuel was available yet but that the airline was keeping a close eye on developments.

Air New Zealand's annual sustainability report, released in early October, reiterated that message. 

"We have learned large scale and practicable volumes of biofuel remain some way from becoming a commercial reality, particularly with the current price of oil globally, and in the absence of clear policy incentives to encourage production in Australasia.

"We are however continuing to explore options for New Zealand manufacture, working with potential technology and fuel supply chain partners."

Globally airlines looked to biofuel as a potentially cheaper alternative when the price of oil reached record levels in 2008, threatening their profits.

 - Stuff

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