BA operates first passenger flight with sustainable fuel

A British Airways flight from London has became the airline’s first passenger journey to be powered directly by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The remaining emissions from the Heathrow to Glasgow trip have been offset.

The airline partnered with Heathrow, air traffic service provider NATS, fuel company bp, Glasgow airport and Airbus to operate the short carbon-neutral flight on Tuesday (September 14).

The flight was operated by an Airbus A320neo – the quietest and most fuel-efficient short-haul aircraft currently in BA’s fleet – and the aircraft had a new special sustainability livery.

It replicated a flight made in 2010, with the aim of showing how far the aviation industry has progressed in its efforts to decarbonise over the last decade.

In 2010, neither offsetting nor sustainable aviation fuel were available to reduce the flight’s impact on the environment, and the journey was operated on an older aircraft carrying fewer passengers.

The aircraft was pushed back using one of the airline’s electric Mototok vehicles, powered by Heathrow’s supply of 100% renewable electricity.

Just one of the aircraft’s engines was used to taxi to the runway, almost halving the power used to start its journey.

Air traffic controllers at NATS directed the aircraft on its continuous climb from Heathrow and descent into Glasgow, avoiding any levelling off, which causes an increase in fuel burn.

This year’s flight achieved a 62% CO2 emissions reduction compared with the flight in 2010 – 34% from more efficient aircraft and operations, 28% from the use of sustainable aviation fuel with the remaining 38% offset using verified carbon offsets.

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Sean Doyle, BA chairman and chief executive, said: “By working together with our industry partners we’ve delivered a 62% improvement in emissions reductions compared to a decade ago.

“This marks real progress in our efforts to decarbonise and shows our determination to continue innovating, working with governments and industry and accelerating the adoption of new low-carbon solutions to get us closer still to the Perfect Flight of the future.”

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow chief executive, added: “The Perfect Flight shows that the solutions to deliver net-zero flight exist, we just need to scale them up.

“The faster we scale up supply and use of sustainable aviation fuels, the faster we can decarbonise aviation and protect the benefits of flying in a world without carbon.

“What is needed urgently is for government to introduce policies to increase the supply of SAF and to provide the right price incentives for airlines to use it.”

Last week, the airline launched its BA Better World sustainability programme and announced a collaboration with bp to source sustainable aviation fuel for flights between London, Glasgow and Edinburgh during the UK COP26 conference.

BA parent company International Airlines Group has committed to operating 10% of its flights using SAF by 2030.

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