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Air France one step closer to cleaner flights

Published on 22/10/2014 19:00 - By

On 21st October, Air France launched its first weekly Toulouse - Paris green fuelled flights. For one year, the airline will use a kerosene compound composed of 10% biofuel produced from sugar cane fermentation and manufactured by a subsidiary of Total oil in Brazil. Thanks to the addition of this product to the original normal fossil fuel, the greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 80%.

The airline did not wish to comment on the possible outcome of this experiment, although this ecological battle, which was initiated in 2011 by the German flag carrier Lufthansa, has since seen Air Canada, Aeromexico, KLM and United Airlines following in their wake.

Frédéric GAGEY, CEO - Air France: "Scientists are hard at work on initiatives worldwide. They are working, in particular, on algae-based technology, although it is not yet a fully mature industry. So I think it's important that everyone in their country, and their activity, should try to stimulate this research."

A step in the right direction, but not a great leap forward, however. The relatively limited use of biofuel in the airline industry today, is mainly due to the lack of large-scale production plants.

Frédéric GAGEY, CEO - Air France: "For the moment, these products are rare, and as a result, expensive, therefore, our use of green fuels doesn’t cost less on the fuel bill."

In fact the effect is exactly the opposite. Cooking oil, algae or sugar cane based biofuel today costs more than twice that of conventional kerosene. In this context it is not surprising that airlines are not generalizing this practice on all their flights.

In spite of everything, the key players will still have to accelerate the pace, since the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has committed itself to halving CO2 emissions in 2050 compared to 2005 levels, but the situation is improving. For example, on the 22nd October, in China, Boeing and the aircraft manufacturer Comac, inaugurated a plant for the transformation of used cooking oil into aeronautical biofuel.

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