Two of Europe’s largest airline groups, Lufthansa and Ryanair, have committed to acquiring a total of almost 1 million tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel from Vienna-based global energy company OMV in two newly-announced offtake deals. Lufthansa Group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to acquire more than 800,000 tonnes of the fuel from OMV between 2023 and 2030, significantly building upon an agreement earlier this year to supply SAF to Lufthansa subsidiary Austrian Airlines at Vienna Airport. Low-cost carrier Ryanair has also signed an MoU to take up to 160,000 tonnes of OMV’s product over the next eight years as part of a pledge that by 2030, 12.5% of its jet fuel will be SAF. Under this deal, OMV will supply SAF to Ryanair in Austria, Germany and Romania, markets in which the airline collectively serves 17 airports.
Lufthansa Group and Ryanair are both blue chip aviation clients for OMV, which has group annual revenues of €36 billion ($36bn) and is transitioning from an integrated oil, gas and chemicals company to a become a major provider of products including sustainable fuels. It currently produces SAF by co-processing sustainable and regional raw materials, particularly used cooking oil, and plans to scale up its annual SAF production to 700,000 tonnes in 2030.
Both airline companies have already announced significant SAF deals with other companies and are keen not only to boost their own supplies, but also the volume of industry demand to help increase general production and drive down the costs of the fuel.
A long-term advocate of SAF, Lufthansa Group is comprised a range of prominent European airline brands, including Lufthansa German Airlines, Lufthansa Cityline, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings Discover, Air Dolomiti and Edelweiss, though whether all would have access to the OMV SAF was not disclosed. Announcing its new SAF deal, Lufthansa said it had set ambitious climate protection goals and was exploring a range of alternative fuels on its path to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The expanded partnership with OMV includes the establishment of new locations for SAF production and delivery, and development of new SAF production technologies.
“The Lufthansa Group is continuously reviewing options for long-term purchase agreements and is already the largest SAF customer in Europe,” the company said. “By 2030, the aviation group wants to halve its net CO2 emissions compared to 2019. Special focus is placed on the forward-looking power-to-liquid and sun-to-liquid technologies, which use renewable energies or solar thermal energy as carriers.”
In addition to increased use of SAF, Lufthansa Group’s emissions reduction strategy also includes fleet renewal, optimised flight operations and offers to customers to help make passenger or cargo flights carbon neutral, a package of actions which was validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative in August 2022. “This makes the Lufthansa Group the first aviation group in Europe with a scientifically-based CO2 reduction target in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015,” the company said.
The Ryanair deal, which enables the carrier to purchase up to 160,000 tonnes of SAF from OMV by 2030, will save an estimated 400,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions over the life of the contract, equivalent to around 25,000 Ryanair Boeing 737 flights from Dublin, the airline’s home, to Vienna, it says.
“SAF plays a key role in our Pathway to Net Zero decarbonisation strategy in which we have committed to increasing our use of SAF over the coming years – a commitment that this deal with OMV will help move further forward,” said Thomas Fowler, Ryanair’s Director of Sustainability. “OMV is a key partner for Ryanair in Austria, Germany and Romania, and we look forward to growing this partnership as Europe’s largest airline group.”
The airline has pledged that by 2030, 12.5% of the jet fuel it uses will be SAF, an initiative which parallels a $22 billion investment in new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which produce 16% lower emissions than the airline’s current technology fleet. Ryanair has also partnered with Trinity College in Dublin to establish the Sustainable Aviation Research Centre, which will determine the sustainability of SAF by analysing the lifecycle greenhouse gases emitted in production, develop ‘pre-screening tools’ to accelerate the certification of new SAF variants, and assess the feasibility of zero-carbon aircraft propulsion systems.
Nina Marczell, OMV’s VP Aviation, Fuels Distributors and Public Sector, said the MoU with Ryanair presented a great opportunity for both companies to progress their sustainability plans. “We are committed to reducing our own carbon footprint as well as supporting our customers in reducing theirs,” she said. “Sustainable aviation fuel significantly reduces CO2 emissions and we are delighted to collaborate with a strong partner like Ryanair, and to provide solutions for the sustainable development of the aviation industry.”
Photo: OMV (andreasjakwerth.com)