Climate change is all the rage at the moment, with governments making commitments and being put on the spot as to how to deal with it. As we know, at COP26 last year, governments were making commitments and at the same time being criticised for not doing more.
However, in addition to this, the aviation industry has been targeted as a contributor to global warming through the use of highly polluting jet fuel. Many airlines, in response, have taken action, including switching at least partially to the use of SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel). SAF is a form of biofuel made which can be made from plant-based waste as well as household waste. It produces 80% less carbon dioxide as well as other harmful particles. Airlines such as Turkish Airlines and even airlines closer to Qantas home in Australia, such as Air New Zealand, are moving towards greater use of SAF.
Qantas is also using SAF. However, according to the website Simple Flying, it currently gets its SAF from either London or Los Angeles which is obviously further away from Australia. This means that it would not be easy for it to access. Qantas may only be able to access the fuel when its planes are in London or Los Angeles, meaning that it would not be able to use the fuel as often. In addition, if it were to transport the fuel from the UK or US to Australia, that would add to the already high cost of using the fuel. In addition to this, the point of using the fuel is that it reduces the environmental impact of Qantas planes. If the fuel has to be transported to Australia that would mean that there would also be an environmental cost in that as well.
Now that Qantas is trying to source the SAF locally, it will be able to benefit from a ready and immediate supply of SAF as needed. In addition, because it is being made locally, Qantas can take advantage of any local knowledge that will enable it to produce it cheaply. For example, it could identify places where the type of waste needed is more easily accessible, enabling the airline to produce the waste more cheaply.
Qantas has plans to invest 200 million dollars, in conjunction with the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, into the production of SAF. It will do so by investing in start-up companies as well as companies that are already established producers of SAF. By doing this, it is hoped that the airline will reach its target of 10% of its fuel usage to come from the use of biofuels. By investing in this way, Qantas will also be helping in the development of a biofuels industry in Australia, therefore, providing a valuable contribution to the Australian economy. Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has said that it hopes that its investment will be supplemented by the government as well as other business sectors. Qantas aims to have net zero emissions by 2050.
As one can see, Qantas has ambitious plans to improve its carbon footprint. Its aim to produce homegrown SAF will no doubt be beneficial for the airline but also provides an opportunity for the airline to gain a positive image contributing to a greener future as well as improving the Australian economy. It also gives the airline the opportunity to diversify into other areas, such as SAF biofuel production. We will have to wait to see how this works out; however all in all, a positive story for this airline.