British Airways operated its first-ever carbon-neutral flight powered by recycled cooking oil this week, a major step in the airline’s goal to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The plane traveled from London Heathrow to Glasgow Airport on Tuesday and was powered directly by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) provided by British multinational gas giant BP, according to a British Airways press release.
The flight’s SAF was blended at 35 percent with traditional jet fuel “in accordance with technical aviation specifications,” according to British Airways.
The aircraft, an Airbus A320neo, burns 20 percent less fuel, resulting in 20 percent less carbon dioxide emissions, and is 50 percent quieter when compared to its earlier version.
The company said the flight path replicated a flight British Airways operated to Edinburgh in 2010 in order “to show how far the aviation industry has progressed in its efforts to decarbonise over the last decade.”
“This flight offered a practical demonstration of the progress we’re making in our carbon reduction journey,” British Airways Chairman and CEO Sean Doyle said in a statement. “By working together with our industry partners we’ve delivered a 62% improvement in emissions reductions compared to a decade ago.”
“This marks real progress in our efforts to decarbonise and shows our determination to continue innovating, working with Governments and industry and accelerating the adoption of new low carbon solutions to get us closer still to the Perfect Flight of the future,” he added.
By 2050, British Airways hopes to achieve net zero carbon emissions, meaning that any of its activities release a net zero amount of carbon into the atmosphere.
Other airlines across the globe have made similar environmental commitments — trade organization Airlines for America announced earlier this year that it would work “across the aviation industry and with government leaders in a positive partnership to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
According to a March press release, the organization hopes to make SAF commercially viable, with 2 billion gallons available to U.S. airlines by 2030.