Airbus struck an agreement with Qantas Group to invest $200 million in a project to develop and produce feedstock and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in Australia. The country currently has no commercial-scale SAF production, but the airline group has made ambitious commitments to adopt SAF in order to fulfill is carbon-emissions goals.
The Qantas financial contribution to the partnership includes $34.7 million it already has pledged for R&D into SAF production.
The Australian Sustainable Aviation Fuel Partnership follows Qantas’ recent order for 12 A350-1000s, 20 A220s, and 20 A321XLRs. Pratt & Whitney, which will provide GTF geared turbofan engines for the 40 A220 and A320neo aircraft, is also part of the SAF partnership.
The Airbus-Qantas partnership is set to run for five years, with options to extend it beyond 2027.
Sustainable aviation fuel is jet fuel produced from waste oils derived from biological sources (e.g., cooking oil, other non-palm waste oils from plants, agricultural residue, or non-fossil CO2), or solid waste from homes or businesses (e.g., packaging, paper, textiles, food waste.) Currently, commercial aircraft are certified to operate on a maximum of 50% SAF blended with conventional jet fuel, though aircraft and jet-engine manufacturers have made commitments to increase the effective applicability of the alternative fuel.
“The increased use of sustainable aviation fuels will be a key driver to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050,” stated Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury, “but we can’t do this without viable industrial systems to produce and commercialize these energy sources at affordable rates and near to key hubs around the world.”
Qantas has committed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, with a 25% emissions reduction and 10% SAF usage by 2030 – and 60% SAF usage by 2050.