Qantas, Airbus Invest Millions to Build Australian SAF Industry

Australia SAF

(Credit: Qantas Airlines)

by | Jun 20, 2022

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Australia SAF

(Credit: Qantas Airlines)

Qantas Airways and Airbus are investing $200 million to establish a sustainable aviation fuel industry in Australia.

The partnership will invest in Australian developed and produced sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and feedstock initiatives. As part of the agreement, SAF projects will have to be commercially viable and meet stringent sustainability criteria.

As a result of the lack of a commercial SAF industry, Australia currently exports millions of tons of feedstock such as canola and animal tallow each year to be made into the fuel in other countries, the companies say. SAF is made from renewable biomass and waste resources. The companies hope the partnership will encourage further investment from governments and other businesses to build the SAF industry in Australia.

Earlier this year, Queensland, Australia, revealed plans to develop a nearly $350 million renewable diesel and SAF biorefinery. The facility will have the capacity to produce more than 90 million gallons of the fuels annually.

The International Air Transport Association says SAF can reduce carbon emissions by up to 80%. The association says for the industry to reach net zero by 2050 it needs to use nearly 119 billion gallons of SAF, up from an expected 2 billion gallons in 2025.

Qantas’ financial contribution to the partnership includes $34.8 million the airline previously committed to research and development of SAF in the country. The airline has a target to use a SAF fuel mix of 10% by 2030 and 60% by 2050.

All current Airbus aircraft are certified to fly with up to 50% SAF and tested a flight using 100% SAF last year, according to the company. Airbus aims for approval for 100% use of SAF on all its current commercial aircraft by 2030. The company also is developing zero-emissions aircraft.

Airlines globally are trying to further implement SAF, and Southwest recently invested in a US DOE-backed program to develop and produce SAF. United signed a deal for 300 million gallons of the fuel this month, and at the end of 2021, the airline operated a commercial flight using all SAF.

The Australian SAF partnership is set for five years with options to extend the deal. Pratt & Whitney, whose GTF engines will be used in Qantas’ A220 and A320neo aircraft, is also contributing to the venture.

“With this investment, Qantas and Airbus are putting our money where our mouth is and betting on the innovation and ingenuity of Australian industry,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says.

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