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Air New Zealand, govt. join forces to scope out SAF industry


Air New Zealand’s journey to net-zero reached another significant milestone in late September with the airline and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment joining forces to bring sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) one step closer to becoming a reality in New Zealand.


Air New Zealand and MBIE have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to run a closed request-for-proposal (RFP) process that invites leaders in innovation to demonstrate the feasibility of operating an SAF plant at a commercial scale in New Zealand.


David Morgan, Air New Zealand’s chief operational integrity and safety officer, said the partnership with MBIE is an incredibly positive and important step in addressing the challenges and opportunities of producing SAF in New Zealand.


“Sustainable aviation fuel is critical to aviation decarbonization and can reduce aviation emissions by more than 80 percent,” Morgan said. “But we can’t do it alone. Air New Zealand and MBIE have a shared interest in developing an SAF supply chain in New Zealand and we are confident this process will bring us one step closer to [this becoming] a reality. COVID-19 has had a huge impact on Air New Zealand, but it has not slowed our commitment to take ambitious action on climate change. If anything, it has demonstrated that air transport is vital to sustaining our local economies through tourism and trade, but it is critical we find a more sustainable way to fly.”


SAF is a fuel made from waste materials such as used cooking oils, landfill waste, or forestry and agricultural residues. It has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by more than 80 percent compared with traditional jet fuel. However, there is a shortage—currently less than 1 percent of aviation fuel supplied in the world is SAF.


Air New Zealand is working proactively with the government and inviting others in the private sector to address the challenges posed by aviation carbon emissions and create a pathway to an SAF industry in New Zealand.


Commercially producing SAF in New Zealand would not only help lower New Zealand’s emissions and reduce waste but will also create jobs and economic opportunities in regional communities.


This MOU is the latest example of Air New Zealand taking ambitious action on climate change by leading and advocating for action on decarbonization with the goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

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