Iberia launches its first long-haul flight using waste biofuel

It is the first long-haul plane to use a biofuel made in Spain from waste that is not suitable for human consumption.

Iberia launches its first long-haul flight using waste biofuel

It is the first long-haul plane to use a biofuel made in Spain from waste that is not suitable for human consumption. The aircraft is an Iberia Airbus A330-200 with 288 passengers. It will be covering the route Madrid-Washington that the airline opened on Wednesday. This flight will not be the only one promoted on Wednesday. Two other flights, Madrid-Dallas (and Madrid-San Francisco), will also be promoted. This will result in a reduction of emissions to the atmosphere of 125 tonnes CO2.

Particularly, the biofuel used in this case is biojet. It was produced at the Petronor refinery of Repsol, Bilbao. These aircraft are already the most efficient and have a maximum takeoff weight of 242 tonnes. They also consume 15% less fuel than their replacements, because they are more considerate of the environment.

Iberia, Repsol and others anticipate the European Union's measures through the Fit For 55 package. This will establish a 2% sustainability aviation fuel obligation by 2025. The three airlines that operated this Wednesday already include bound for the United States.

Future flights will be operated by companies using a greater percentage of biofuel mix, which can reach as high as 50%. The first advanced biofuels plant for Spain is expected to be operational in 2023 at Cartagena. Iberia and Repsol plan to use synthetic SAF (efuel) produced at the Petronor Bilbao plant. Both companies are also working together on a project to use HVO (hydrotreated veggie oil) in airport services vehicles.

Josu Jon, Repsol's CEO, stated during the presentation that "a sector like the aeronautical needs solutions such biofuels for decarbonization processes such as the one we are involved in." Imaz believes that this project strengthens its position to achieve net zero emission by 2050. It is the first company to adopt this "ambitious" goal. He believes that the transition must be done with the "capabilities” in the country to "avoid any future dependencies", and a commitment to Spanish industries.

Javier Sanchez-Prieto (President of Iberia) commented on Wednesday that these flights "exemplify" and "show that the solution exists." He also noted that there are significant milestones between now and 2030 for biofuels in aviation, and that "this type flight will become the norm in travel in the future."

The president of Iberia also stated that there is a misperception that electrification means sustainability. It does not have to be this way. He believes a more calm debate is necessary, even though he understands that governments take decisions "by legislations" while changes in aeronautical sectors can take "decades".

Sanchez-Prieto stated that aviation faces a challenging challenge. He suggested that taking steps such as this will help to promote the production and sale of fuels from sustainable sources at affordable prices so that we can make progress in the ecological transition.

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