British Airways owner backs green fuel projects

ByTravelling For Business

July 24, 2023
British Airways is to cancel more than 300 flights to and from Heathrow over the Easter holiday period due to strikes by airport security staff.British Airways is to cancel more than 300 flights to and from Heathrow over the Easter holiday period due to strikes by airport security staff.

The owner of British Airways is taking equity positions in green fuel supply companies to ensure it meets its targets to fly aircraft on lower-emission, sustainable aviation fuel.

International Consolidated Airlines Group will announce today that it has taken a stake in a would-be producer of bioethanol. The stake size is undisclosed, but the group is injecting £4.4 million into the privately owned Nova Pangaea Technologies, based near Redcar in North Yorkshire.

The money will be used by Nova Pangaea to build a plant to produce bioethanol from agricultural waste and wood residue as a feedstock for sustainable aviation fuel that will be produced, in turn, by LanzaJet. It will be Nova Pangaea’s first waste-to-fuel, commercial-scale production facility and the first of its kind to be built in Britain.

The project is part of the FTSE 100 airline group’s investment programme in sustainable aviation fuel, which at the end of last year amounted to $865 million and accounted for a quarter of the 1.25 billion litres a year of sustainable aviation fuel it will need in 2030.

The owner of British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus has taken an equity stake in LanzaJet, an American company that has vowed to produce sustainable aviation fuel in Britain as part of its tie-up with the airlines group in an initiative called Project Speedbird.

The BA owner has adopted Britain’s proposed mandate that aircraft must fly on fuel that is at least 10 per cent sustainable aviation fuel by 2030. That would require 1.5 billion litres of sustainable aviation fuel a year in Britain. Today global production is not more than 450 million.

Sustainable aviation fuel is seen as the only viable way of decarbonising the long-haul, large-aircraft aviation industry; electric and hydrogen technologies are seen as solutions only for smaller, shorter-range aircraft.

Luis Gallego, 54, chief executive of the airlines group, indicated that his business was travelling in a different direction to, say, the car industry, where brands have done little to invest in charging infrastructure for battery electric vehicles. Sustainable aviation fuel was “the only realistic option for long-haul airlines to decarbonise, which is why investment in this area is so critical”, he said.

Nova Pangaea, whose name is a take on “new world” (Pangaea was the supercontinent of prehistory) says construction of its plant will start this year.