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Iberia operates its 1st long-haul flights with low-level SAF blend made from waste in Spain

Photo: Iberia

Repsol and Iberia have taken another step forward in their alliance to reduce emissions in the aviation sector with the operation of the first long-haul flights using biofuels produced in Spain from waste from the agrifood industry that is not suitable for human consumption. Specifically, the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) used is from a batch produced in 2021 at the Repsol Group's Petronor refinery, located in Bilbao in northern Spain.

The first flight to incorporate the biofuel inaugurated the Madrid-Washington route with a twin-engine Airbus A330-200 aircraft that has a capacity of 288 passengers and is currently one of the airline's most efficient airplanes. This A330-200 MTOW 242 TN version has a maximum take-off capacity of 242 tons, consumes 15 percent less fuel than the fleet it replaces and is, therefore, more environmentally friendly.

The second will be flight IB6193 from Madrid to San Francisco, a route Iberia is resuming June 1 after the pandemic, and the third will be Iberia's inaugural flight from Madrid to Dallas, which will also take off June 1. Both are operated with the Airbus A330-200 fleet as well.

With these three flights, Iberia and Repsol have reduced 125 tons of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, thanks to the improved fuel efficiency provided by the fleet used and the use of SAF.

“As a sector, the aeronautical industry needs solutions such as biofuels for a decarbonization process like the one we are currently undergoing,” said Josu Jon Imaz, CEO of Repsol. “Repsol and Iberia’s commitments place us at the forefront in this aspect. Our commitment also consolidates our position as a multi-energy company with the objective of achieving zero net emissions by 2050, making us the first company in the sector to adopt this ambitious goal.”

Javier Sánchez-Prieto, chairman and CEO of Iberia, said that “aviation faces a very big challenge that can only be met by taking steps like today’s, promoting the production of fuels of sustainable origin in sufficient quantity and at competitive prices, which will allow us to advance in the ecological transition of the airline industry.”

This initiative is part of the collaboration agreement towards a more sustainable mobility, signed by Repsol and Iberia last July, in line with the sustainable development goals promoted by the United Nations through the 2030 Agenda. Since then, both companies have collaborated in the AVIATOR project to analyze the impact of aviation emissions on air quality at airports; in November they operated the first Madrid-Bilbao flight with SAF produced from waste; and in January this year, Iberia joined the SHYNE consortium (Spanish Hydrogen Network), led by Repsol, to accelerate the development of green hydrogen in Spain. The strategic agreement between Repsol and Iberia includes a roadmap for the promotion of SAF for the coming years. In the flights operated June 1, Iberia and Repsol are ahead of the obligation of incorporating 2 percent SAF that the European Union is setting for 2025, through the Fit for 55 package. The flights to Washington, Dallas, and San Francisco already incorporate 2 percent.

In the future, Iberia and Repsol will operate new flights with an increasing percentage of biofuel blends that can reach up to 50 percent. This product will be produced at Spain’s first advanced biofuels plant, which is scheduled to come online in 2023 in Cartagena. Also in 2024, Repsol and Iberia plan to operate with synthetic SAF (eFuel) produced at the Petronor complex in Bilbao. In addition, both companies are working on a project to use hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) in airport service vehicles.

The batch of SAF used June 1 was the third manufactured by Repsol and the first one in the Spanish market produced from waste as a raw material. This batch joins two previous batches produced from biomass at Repsol’s refineries in Puertollano and Tarragona.



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