Dubai: UAE`s national carrier Etihad Airways has operated its first biofuel-powered flight, a step towards encouraging the use of sustainable fuel in airline operations in the region.
The delivery flight of the airline`s newest Boeing 777-300ER, from Seattle to Abu Dhabi, that arrived on January 24 is the first in the Gulf to be operated using sustainable biofuel, the airline has announced.
The 14 hour flight of the Abu Dhabi-based airline was operated using a combination of traditional and plant-based jet fuel, which is fully certified for use as commercial jet fuel.
"This flight marks a significant milestone in our efforts to support and drive the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel in Abu Dhabi, the region, and globally", James Hogan, Etihad Airways` President and Chief Executive Officer, said.
"However, the use of a presently available biofuel is just one part of a more comprehensive long-term biofuel strategy to ensure that we are able to use biofuels to decarbonise substantially an entire industry sector in the long term", he said.
The fuel, supplied by an Amsterdam-based sustainable jet fuel provider SkyNRG, is based on recycled vegetable cooking oil.
As a plant-based source that has been used already for cooking purposes, it qualifies as a bio-based waste stream with a high sustainability value.
SkyNRG`s Managing Director Dirk Kronemeijer, said: "With this flight Etihad Airways has taken a fantastic step, particularly in increasing awareness within the region. There is a lot more to come in this continent and we are determined to be there when that happens."
Boeing also supported this initiative by supplying their `fly-away` fuel, provided for every new delivery, as a biofuel blend, the statement from Etihad said.
With new regulations now being imposed on aviation carbon emissions, the commercial viability of biofuel is gaining even more importance.
Starting this year, the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) will require all airlines to pay for emissions and this is likely to lead to other such schemes around the world.
Biofuel is considered `carbon neutral` as the plant biomass takes in carbon as it grows and releases it again during the combustion process, and this means that the use of biofuel as part of the EU ETS would be considered exempt.