Travel Gossip: Sustainable Biofuel Supply to Be Created for Africa


South African Airways (SAA) and Boeing have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to create a sustainable aviation biofuel supply chain in Southern Africa. This has never been done before on the African continent.

The MOU was signed at the Corporate Council on Africa’s 9th Biennial U.S.-Africa Business, which was attended by executives from leading U.S. and African firms and government representatives from several countries.

The agreement is part of an effort to promote environmental sustainability while advancing South Africa’s social and economic development.

“South African Airways is taking the lead in Africa on sustainable aviation fuels and, by setting a best practice example, can positively shape aviation biofuel efforts in the region,” says Ian Cruickshank, SAA Head of Group Environmental Affairs.

Sustainable Biofuel

“By working with Boeing’s sustainable aviation biofuel team, which has a history of successful partnerships to move lower-carbon biofuels closer to commercialization, we will apply the best global technology to meet the unique conditions of Southern Africa, diversify our energy sources and create new opportunities for the people of South Africa.”

Boeing has cooperated with airlines, research institutions, governments, and other stakeholders to develop road maps for biofuel supply chains in several countries and regions around the world.

The agreement with South African Airways is the first such project in Africa.

“Sustainable aviation biofuel will play a central role in reducing commercial aviation’s carbon emissions over the long term, and we see tremendous potential for these fuels in Africa,” says Julie Felgar, managing director of Environmental Strategy and Integration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

“Boeing and South African Airways are committed to investigating feedstocks and pathways that comply with strict sustainability guidelines and can have a positive impact on South Africa’s development.”

Organic Sources

Biofuel is produced from organic sources such as plants or algae. Flight tests have shown that it performs as well as or better than petroleum-based jet fuel.

When produced in sustainable ways, biofuel contributes far less to global climate change than traditional fuels because carbon dioxide (CO2) is pulled out of the atmosphere by a growing plant-based feedstock.

Boeing and South African Airways believe that new developments in technology will enable the conversion of biomass into jet fuel in a more sustainable manner without competing with other sectors for food and water resources.

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