International Airlines Group (IAG) has set an ambitious target to power 10% of its flights with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030 and enable it to cut annual emissions by two million tonnes. To meet the commitment, IAG, which is made up of British Airways, Iberia, Iberia Express, Level, Aer Lingus and Vueling, will need to purchase one million tonnes of SAF annually. This will come from SAF offtake deals it already has in the works with partners Velocys and LanzaJet, but it will need many more and IAG is relying on government policy support in the UK, Europe and beyond to attract the necessary investment to construct the sustainable aviation fuel plants to deliver enough supply, reports Mark Pilling. “This will make a material contribution to the one million tonnes and we have a number of other projects that we are working on in different countries since, as you can appreciate, we uplift fuel in many destinations,” the airline group told GreenAir.
“With the right policy in place in the next ten years, up to 14 plants could be built across the UK, creating 6,500 jobs and saving 3.6 million tonnes of CO2 per annum,” it said. “These plants will play a significant role in meeting this target but we’re also looking to secure the supply of sustainable aviation fuels from other countries.
“Without appropriate government policy, the fuel plants won’t be built, which means we won’t be able to secure the supply to meet our target. We will also work with our industry partners to encourage investment in supply capacity around the world.”
Luis Gallego, IAG´s Chief Executive, said: “For more than a decade, IAG has led the airline industry’s actions to reduce its carbon footprint. It’s clearly challenging to transition to a low carbon business model but, despite the current pandemic, we remain resolute in our climate commitments.”
Welcoming IAG’s commitment, Henrik Wareborn, Chief Executive of Velocys, said: “Our planned Altalto waste-to-jet-fuel plant will be the UK’s first SAF facility and could be fuelling transatlantic flights in just five years’ time, with no need to modify aircraft or engines at all. Velocys high performance catalyst and reactor technology, with the integration of carbon capture, can generate negative-carbon-emissions SAF – essential for any net zero strategy.”
Grant Shapps, the UK government’s Transport Secretary, said: “Just this week, we’ve set the world’s most ambitious climate change target, and IAG’s agenda-setting commitment is clear evidence of the progress we are making. These kinds of initiatives, along with our work through the Jet Zero Council, will help us rapidly accelerate towards our net zero targets as we build back better out of the pandemic.”
IAG said it is investing $400 million in the development of SAF over the next 20 years, including its partnerships with LanzaJet and Velocys. This includes the Velocys Altalto plant in the UK which is slated to start operations in 2025. British Airways will also purchase SAF from LanzaJet’s US plant to power some of its flights from late 2022.
In addition, IAG said it will become the first airline group worldwide to extend its net zero commitment to its supply chain. The group will be working with its suppliers to enable them to commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 for the products and services they provide to IAG.