SEATTLE, 9 Nov. 2011. Alaska Air Group officials announced that, starting today, Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air will fly 75 commercial passenger flights in the United States powered by biofuel. Today, two maiden biofuel-powered flights will take flight from Seattle for Washington, D.C., and Portland, Ore. Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air will then continue to operate select flights between Seattle and the two cities over the next few weeks using a 20 percent blend of sustainable biofuel, which is made from used cooking oil and meets international safety and sustainability standards.
Sustainable biofuels provide a viable alternative to conventional fuel and enable airlines to reduce their environmental impact; further, industry leaders agree that biofuels represent a critical element in cutting aviation's carbon footprint, according to a company spokesperson.
"The 75 flights that Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air will fly over the next few weeks reflect our longstanding commitment to environmental responsibility and our belief that sustainable biofuels are key to aviation's future," Bill Ayer, Alaska Air Group chairman and CEO, says. "Commercial airplanes are equipped and ready for biofuels. They will enable us to fly cleaner, foster job growth in a new industry, and can insulate airlines from the volatile price swings of conventional fuel to help make air travel more economical. What we need is an adequate, affordable, and sustainable supply. To the biofuels industry, we say: If you build it, we will buy it."
Alaska Air Group officials estimate the 20 percent certified biofuel blend used for the 75 flights will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 10 percent, or 134 metric tons and the equivalent of taking 26 cars off the road for a year. If the company powered all its flights with a 20 percent biofuel blend for one year, the annual emissions savings would represent the equivalent of taking nearly 64,000 cars off the road or providing electricity to 28,000 homes.
"Aviation clearly needs a clean energy alternative to fossil fuels," says Billy Glover, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of environment and aviation policy. "In the U.S. and around the world, the industry is doing all it can to support sustainable biofuel development and maintain aviation's role in global economic growth. To make that happen we must develop regional supply chains, and that takes supportive government policies that encourage investment in the early stages of this emerging sector."
The fuel was supplied by SkyNRG, an aviation biofuels broker, and made by Dynamic Fuels, a producer of next-generation renewable, synthetic fuels made from used cooking oil. The synthetic high-performance airliner fuel made by Dynamic Fuels, a $170 million joint-venture between Tyson Foods Inc. (NYSE:TSN) and Syntroleum Corp. (NASDAQ:SYNM), meets aviation and military safety, sustainability, and performance standards.
"Advanced biofuels can be an economic driver in creating good jobs and a vital part of America's long-term energy security," expalins Bob Ames, Tyson Foods' vice president of renewable energy and member of the Dynamic Fuels management committee. "However, government policies supporting development are essential to ensure that the aviation biofuels industry reaches its full potential and is able to compete against foreign petroleum."
Alaska Air Group previously joined the strategic Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest (SAFN) initiative, a 10-month regional stakeholder effort to explore the feasibility, challenges, and opportunities for creating an aviation biofuels industry in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The study determined the region has the diverse stocks for biofuels, delivery infrastructure, and political will needed to create a viable biofuels industry.