Virgin Atlantic is doubling down on sustainability, as Neste and ExxonMobil will begin to supply sustainable aviation fuel to the airline this year.

The agreement, announced on February 9, includes a UK supply of 2.5 million litres of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Sustainable Aviation Fuel

The partnership between Virgin Atlantic and Neste, a leading provider of SAF, marks the start of a larger collaboration between the two companies to make SAF easier to use and more readily available in the UK.

virgin atlantic saf sustainable
Sustainable aviation fuel produced by Neste is made from sustainable materials, including renewable waste and residue raw materials. | © Aero Icarus / Wikimedia

Without being mixed with conventional jet fuel, Neste’s SAF can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% (compared to conventional jet fuel alone).

“Neste is committed to working together with the aviation industry to achieve its emission reduction targets… We need to act now – SAF is a proven solution with clear climate benefits and is already available today.” – Johnathon Wood, Vice President Renewable Aviation, Neste

The collaboration between Virgin Atlantic and Neste is supported by ExxonMobil, as the company’s expertise will help to guide and manage the delivery of the fuel into the UK. The delivery will take place in the first half of 2022.

“We’re proud to play our part in this pioneering agreement, facilitating a safe, secure and reliable supply of lower emission aviation fuel via our dedicated pipeline network.” – Paul Greenwood, Chairman, Esso UK Ltd (Subsidiary of ExxonMobil)

Target of 10% SAF by 2030

The SAF supply is a significant step forward for Virgin Atlantic, with a goal of reaching 10% SAF by 2030.

“After fleet renewal, SAF represents the greatest opportunity to decarbonise aviation in the short to medium term. This supply is the beginning of commercial SAF at scale for Virgin Atlantic and whilst only enough to operate 140 flights (at a SAF/jet fuel blend of 35%/65%) between London and New York, it’s a starting point.” – Holly Boyd-Boland, VP Corporate Development, Virgin Atlantic

The airline plans to build upon the foundational agreement and continue to work with Neste and ExxonMobil to deliver more than seventy times over the volume of 140 flights.

virgin atlantic sustainable
Virgin Atlantic has welcomed eight new A350-1000s into its fleet since 2019. © Virgin Atlantic

In addition to the introduction of SAF, Virgin Atlantic has been renewing its fleet in recent years. By the end of 2022, the airline’s average fleet age will be less than seven years. Since 2019, eight new Airbus A350-1000s, and an A350-100 have entered into service with Virgin Airlines, with three new A339s in 2021.

What do you think of the increase in usage of SAF? Let us know in the comments! 

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