British Airways’ San Francisco flights to use sustainable aviation fuel from 2025

British Airways (BA) flights to San Francisco Airport will be powered by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from 2025.

Renewable fuels company Aemetis has announced a multi-year agreement with International Airlines Group (IAG), which owns BA and Irish carrier Aer Lingus.

The agreement follows experimental usage of the fuels by BA last year, which sourced SAF to cover the requirements for all its flights between London, Glasgow and Edinburgh during the COP26 climate conference in October. SAFs are typically derived by combining jet fuel with alternatives such as bio-fuels or recycled oils from industrial food facilities.

IAG will purchase a total of 78,400 tonnes of SAF over seven years, enough to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 248,000 tonnes across the same time period.

Eric McAfee, chairman and CEO of Aemetis, said: “Sustainable aviation fuel continues to be shown to be a great solution to decarbonise aviation and can be used in existing aircraft engines.”

The SAF will be produced at the Aemetis Carbon Zero plant currently under development in Riverbank, California. This plant will be powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity and is designed to sequester CO2 from the production process, significantly reducing the carbon intensity of the fuel.

Jonathon Counsell, head of sustainability at IAG, said: “SAF is key to decarbonising aviation and IAG has to date committed $865m in SAF purchases and investments. We see great potential to develop a long-term partnership with Aemetis, who [sic] is at the cutting edge of producing low-carbon biofuels from sustainable wastes.”

IAG has committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and to using SAF for 10 per cent of its fuel by 2030.

BA’s current short-term plans to reduce its emissions are based around improving its operational efficiency, flying more fuel-efficient aircraft and funding carbon offset and removal projects to mitigate emissions on UK domestic flights. It also wants to progressively introduce SAFs manufactured using carbon capture technology and waste feedstocks.

In the medium to longer term, the airline is continuing to invest in the development and scale-up of SAF and accelerating the growth of new technologies such as zero-emissions hydrogen-powered aircraft and carbon capture technology.

In May, a new institute for developing clean, safe and sustainable air travel was created by Imperial College London, as the pressure on the aviation industry ramps up to become zero carbon by 2050.

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