IAG (British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus) is aiming to power 10% of its flights with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030. The aviation group wants to set a benchmark and be the first in Europe.

The strategic announcement comes as air transport has been increasingly under fire from environmental groups. Thus, IAG will purchase one million tonnes of sustainable jet fuel per year. The move will help the group to cut its annual emissions by two million tonnes by 2030. This equates to removing one million cars from Europe’s roads each year. 

In addition, IAG 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 range of products and services they provide to IAG. 

IAG chief executive Luis Gallego

“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,” said IAG chief executive Luis Gallego. “Government support is critical to meet this target by attracting investment to construct sustainable aviation fuel plants that will deliver enough supply for the airline industry, creating highly valued green jobs and economic growth at global scale”. 

IAG’s target is largely supported by UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps: “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.”

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. Sustainable jet fuel produces at least 70% less carbon emissions than fossil fuel. IAG is investing US$400m in the development of sustainable aviation fuel in the next 20 years.

Sustainable fuel and hydrogen-electric power aircraft

The Group is partnering with sustainable aviation fuel developers, LanzaJet and Velocys. This includes Europe’s first household waste-to-jet fuel plant in the UK which will start operations in 2025. British Airways will also purchase sustainable jet fuel from LanzaJet’s US plant to power some of its flights from late 2022. IAG was the first airline group worldwide to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and is one of the 10 global companies recognised by the UN for their ambitious carbon targets. 

In its quest to turn into a greener airline, IAG affiliate British Airways announced recently to invest in ZeroAvia – a leading innovator in decarbonising commercial aviation – in an effort to accelerate the development of 50+ seater aircraft capable of running on zero emissions hydrogen-electric power.

Copyright 2021 ZeroAvia

With a group of half a dozen other investors, British Airways is putting a total of US$24.3m to accelerate the development of a larger hydrogen-electric engine capable of flying further and using larger aircraft as soon as 2026.

ZeroAvia says it could achieve commercialisation for its hydrogen-electric power as early as 2024, with flights of up to 500-miles in up to 20-seater aircraft. With this new investment, ZeroAvia expects to have 50+ seat commercial aircraft in operation in five years’ time and it accelerates the company’s vision of powering a 100-seat single-aisle aircraft by 2030.

Photo – top of page – Copyright 2020 British Airways

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