The Spanish carrier Iberia is looking to develop Sustainable Aviation Biofuels (SAF) on a big scale, by using waste, recycled used oils, and other sustainable plant-based feedstocks. Iberia signed a strategic alliance with Cepsa, one of Spain’s leading aviation fuel suppliers. The airline is looking to fly 10% of all its operations using SAF by 2030. Let’s investigate further.
Iberia, Iberia Express, and Cepsa signed an agreement today to help decarbonize the airline industry. Both parties will research and develop sustainable fuels and other alternative energies, such as renewable hydrogen and electricity. The objective is to promote sustainable mobility for aircraft and the fleet of airport ground vehicles, said the airline in a statement.
With this agreement, Iberia secures access to biojet, a scarce type of fuel. Additionally, it helps Iberia with its 2030 Agenda, in which it is looking to operate at least 10% of all its flights with SAF. The 2030 Agenda is a broad compromise undertaken by the International Airlines Group (IAG), Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, Vueling, and Level. By 2050, IAG has also committed to achieving net-zero emissions, similar to most airlines worldwide.
Javier Sanchez-Prieto, Iberia’s Chairman and CEO, said,
“To decarbonize the aviation sector, the development, production, and distribution of sustainably sourced fuels at affordable prices and in sufficient quantity to supply airlines is essential. We are confident that this agreement with Cepsa will contribute to that goal.”
The regional carrier Iberia Express will also support the transition to alternative jet fuel sources. It is time to create synergies, develop the airline business, and minimize the environmental impact, said Carlos Gomez, CEO of the short and medium-haul low-cost airline.
Aviation biofuels are set to have a key role to play in the decarbonization of tourism and air transport. SAF can reduce emissions by up to 80% over conventional fuel during its life cycle.
Additionally, unlike other alternative energies, like hydrogen and electric, biofuels can be used immediately, with existing supply infrastructures, and more importantly, without the need for fleet renewals.
The Iberia Group is focusing its environmental strategy on three areas. These are more efficient operations, a more sustainable travel experience, and the commitment to the ecological transition of aviation.
Iberia will have more efficient operations through a fleet renewal plan, reducing fuel consumption, using electric ground vehicles, and other initiatives. A more sustainable travel experience for customers will be achieved through the digitalization of services. Iberia will also progressively eliminate plastics onboard, improve waste management and do carbon footprint offsetting. Finally, its commitment to the ecological transition of aviation will be done by collaborating in the research and development of SAF.
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Airlines worldwide have the resolution to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, aligning with the Paris Agreement goal for global warming not to exceed 1.5°C.
Nevertheless, achieving net-zero emissions will be a considerable challenge because the aviation industry must progressively reduce its emissions while addressing the growing demand. The International Air Transport Association projects that a cumulative total of 21.2 gigatons of carbon have to be abated between now and 2050.
IATA believes biofuels will play a significant role in achieving this seemingly impossible task. According to the airline association, 65% of all carbon emissions will be abated through sustainable aviation fuels. Additionally, new propulsion technologies, such as hydrogen, will take care of another 13%, efficiency improvements will account for a further 3%. The remainder could be dealt with through carbon capture and storage (11%) and offsets (8%), said IATA.
What do you think about Iberia’s latest initiative? Let us know in the comments below.
Lead Journalist – South America – Daniel comes to Simple Flying with many years of aviation journalism experience, having worked with Mexican publication A21, Roads & Kingdoms, El Economista and more. His degree in journalism allows him to form beautifully crafted and insightful pieces. His specialist knowledge of Latin American airlines and close relationship with the likes of Aeromexico, Avianca, Volaris brings depth to our coverage in the region. Based in Mexico City, Mexico.