Cooking oil has more uses than one can imagine. Ever thought that planes will use cooking oil as their fuel? That’s happening. This month, Thomson Airways will become Britain’s first airline to fly customers on biofuel — in this case cooking oil — when it operates a service to Spain.
The airline, owned by Europe’s biggest tour operator TUI Travel, said it planned to operate the flight from Birmingham to Palma, Mallorca, on July 28 once final safety clearance was received.
Flights will operate on a 50/50 blend of Jet A1 fuel and hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) fuel — made from used cooking oil.
After that, weekly flights to Spain using biofuel will begin in September for a year, on the same route initially and switching to Birmingham-Alicante during the winter schedule.
Dutch airline KLM operated the world’s first scheduled biokerosene-powered flight the other day after one of its Boeing 737-800 jets flew 171 passengers between Amsterdam and Paris, using the same cooking oil—Jet-A mix that Thomson plans to use.
KLM, which merged with Air France in 2004, operated a one-off passenger flight using biofuel in 2009 — the world’s first — and now plans to launch scheduled biokerosene-fuelled services between Holland and France in September.
Thomson Managing Director Chris Browne has been quoted as saying by Daily Mail: “As sustainable biofuel become more commercially viable, Thomson Airways plans to expand its use of such biofuel across its fleet over the next three years.”
European Airlines, biofuel producers and the EU Commission last week signed up to produce 2 million tonnes of biofuel for aviation by 2020.
Sustainable biofuel cost significantly more than regular jet fuel and is a premium that the airline industry cannot sustain today.
The British government believes that sustainable biofuel have a role to play in efforts to tackle climate change, particularly in sectors where no other viable low carbon energy source has been identified — as is the case with aviation.
Using biofuel will help Thomson meet owner TUI Travel’s plan to reduce the carbon emissions from its airlines.