Qantas and Airbus sustainable aviation fuel project

Airbus and Qantas have made a joint investment into acceleration of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in Australia (June 2022). Both companies have stated that they will invest $200 million into this project, $50 million of which has previously committed by Qantas. There are other projects also looking at SAF.

This new investment comes about after BP has stated that they will start producing sustainable aviation fuel by 2025. BP has recently converted its oil refinery near Perth WA to produce renewable fuels. While BP has not stated how much SAF it will be producing, but BP has stated that output will depend on demand.

Aircraft travel produces 12% of global carbon emissions. The use of SAF has become popular as governments and multiple industries are trying to decarbonise the aviation industry.

Australia currently has no sustainable aviation fuel production and no mandates on fuel. The target set by both companies is to be using 10% SAF in its fuel mix by 2030. The aim of the investment it to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. In 2021, relying on SAF was estimated around 100 million litres, in the next three decades the goal is for SAF to rise to 449 billion litres.

Due to the lack of a local commercial-scale SAF industry, Australia is currently exporting millions of tonnes of feedstock every year, such as canola and animal tallow to be made into SAF in other countries. The Qantas Group, which has committed to using 10 per cent SAF in its overall fuel mix by 2030, is sourcing SAF overseas. This includes 15 per cent of its fuel use out of London currently and 20 million litres each year for flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Australia from 2025.The initial partnership between Qantas and Airbus is contracted for 5 years, will the possibility to extend.

Pratt & Whitney is also contributing to the venture. Their GTF engines were recently selected by Qantas for their new A220 and A320neo family aircraft. The company claims to support greater use of cleaner, alternative fuels including SAF, while continually advancing the efficiency of aircraft propulsion technology.

Qantas Chief Executive, Alan Joyce, has stated how he hopes the investment will encourage the Australian government to improve the policy framework and to help fund the local SAF industry in Australia.