Natasha Lombart

Air NZ's biofuel ambitions

Natasha Lombart, 14 Mar 16
Akaroa attractions -

Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia have linked up to investigate whether environmentally-friendly aviation biofuel can be produced locally to put in their planes' fuel tanks. The alliance partners have issued a "request for information" to the market to explore the opportunity to procure locally-produced aviation biofuel. Captain David Morgan, Air New Zealand's chief flight operations and safety officer, said the move was a part of the airline's carbon management programme. "By working in partnership with our alliance partner Virgin Australia we hope we can stimulate the local market, drive innovation and investment and potentially uncover a sustainable biofuel supply suitable for our respective operations," he said. READ MORE: * Air NZ launches new initiatives for sustainability * Smooth run for Air NZ's biofuel test Aviation consultant Irene King said biofuels held promise for the future, but were not yet economic due the current cheap price of oil as a result of the global economic downturn. "Really, biofuel only works when the price of oil is US$120 (NZ$178) a barrel," she said. It is currently under US$40. For airlines, however, which were conscious of their impact on the environment, investing in biofuels was part of their risk-management plans. "There's going to be much more of a focus on the environment and what is coming out of these engines. Anything that gives a non-polluting discharge is going to be really favourably received," King said. Biofuels also provided a means of hedging against the oil price in the long term, and was also recognition of the future direction of aero engine technology, she said. Virgin Australia's head of sustainability Robert Wood said the airline was committed to stimulating the development of a sustainable aviation biofuel industry in the region. "Aviation biofuel offers a significant opportunity for the aviation industry to reduce emissions whilst also building long-term fuel security for the sector," he said. There was a need to stimulate the biofuel industry in Australian and New Zealand. "We are seeing the development of the aviation biofuel industry accelerate internationally but that is not yet the case for our region. "We are confident that our collaboration with Air New Zealand to procure a large volume of aviation biofuel will de-risk investment in the sector, creating high-tech, high-skilled jobs in the region," Wood said. - Stuff