Finnair fulfils biofuel pioneering ambitions as it announces three Amsterdam-Helsinki flights starting next week
Thu 14 July 2011 – Finnair is the latest carrier to confirm it will start using sustainable biofuels on commercial flights. The airline will follow a similar route adopted by KLM and Thomson Airways in using recycled vegetable cooking oil sourced by Dutch company SkyNRG from Dynamic Fuels in the United States. The biofuel will be blended 50/50 with conventional jet kerosene and will be used in both engines of an Airbus narrowbody aircraft. Initially, Finnair aims to fly at least three flights on the Amsterdam-Helsinki route, refuelling at Schiphol, where the fuel blend is stored. The airline and SkyNRG say they will jointly work on a structural supply chain in order to help accelerate the development of sustainable and affordable jet fuels.
Finnair has harboured ambitions for some time to be amongst the first carriers to use biofuels in commercial service. Last December the airline revealed it was in discussions with fellow Finnish company Neste Oil to acquire sustainable jet fuel but later pulled out citing sustainability, cost of the fuel and supply chain issues (see article). The withdrawal also coincided with unfavourable publicity over Neste’s predominant use of controversial palm oil in its NExBTL fuel.
Neste was also further down the line in negotiations with Lufthansa and a continued relationship has culminated in Neste supplying the biofuel for the German carrier’s 200-flight programme starting tomorrow, July 15. Palm oil is not expected to be part of the initial flight mix.
Finnair says it is committed to only using biofuels that are “socially, ecologically and economic sustainable”, and on a lifecycle basis biomass production “must significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, must not compromise food production or lead to biodiversity degradation or deforestation.”
Says Kati Ihamäki, Finnair’s VP Sustainable Development: “We want to be a pioneer in sustainable development in air transport. Engine emissions account for the biggest environmental impact of flying, so investing in research into alternative fuels is a natural way to try to reduce the load on the environment.”
Since ASTM approval for so-called HEFA, or hydroprocessed oil-based, jet biofuel blends on July 1, announcements on commercial biofuel flights by KLM, Lufthansa and Thomson Airways have claimed a first of their kind. Finnair says its flight next week will be the longest commercial flight flown anywhere in the world to date.