Air France operated a biofuel-powered Airbus A350 from Paris to Montreal on Tuesday using used cooking oil to help power the jet across the Atlantic.
Air France Embraces SAF With Cooking Oil Flight From To Canada
The blend was developed by Total, France’s largest oil and gas company, and included 16% previously-used cooking oil. The move is part of Air France’s effort to emerge from the pandemic on the road to carbon neutrality, something it hopes to accomplish with the increasing use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).
In a statement, Air France said it had a “shared ambition to decarbonize air transportation and to develop a SAF supply chain in France.” Air France flight 342 from Paris (CDG) to Montreal (YUL) was the carrier’s latest effort at the goal.
But there’s a problem…the process for creating this SAF is not only expensive, but significantly more expensive compared to the cost of conventional fuel production. Nevertheless, Air France will continue with its efforts.
Under a “Green Deal” that will impact all airlines based in the European Union, Air France must use 1% SAF next year, 2% by 2025, and 5% by 2030.
Already, though, airlines are seeking exemptions. While Air France CEO Ben Smith says airlines have a “major responsibility” to cut emissions, he is seeking a waiver for intercontinental flights where foreign competitors are not held to the same standards:
“We have to be on a level playing field. We can’t have a situation where airlines that are based outside Europe can undercut us, (and) that is a real concern.”
It’s also a real concern for budget carriers in Europe like Ryanair and Wizz Air, which are crying foul over the prospect of exempting longhaul flights.
As Air France attempts to cut carbon emissions, it showcased the huge problem in doing so: it spent significantly more on fuel between Paris and Montreal because it used cooking oil.
And yet the Zeitgeist is turning and it is no longer acceptable to continue the status quo. Perhaps Air France should look into carbon capture technology like United Airlines…the cooking oil experiment just isn’t going to cut it.