Qantas and Airbus will invest close to $300 million to accelerate Australia’s sustainable aviation fuel industry.
Biofuels cut greenhouse gas emissions by around 80 per cent compared to traditional kerosene, but Australia is yet to produce its own sustainable fuel.
The country instead exports millions of tons of feedstock every year to be made into biofuels in other countries.
But the new Australian Sustainable Aviation Fuel Partnership will ensure biofuels can be developed and produced here in Australia.
“Without swift action, Australia is at risk of being left behind,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said in a statement.
“This investment will help kickstart a local biofuels industry in Australia and hopefully encourage additional investment from governments and other business, and build more momentum for the industry as a whole.”
Mr Joyce and Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury signed the partnership agreement on Sunday ahead of the International Air Transport Association’s general meeting.
The partnership, which is initially set for five years, will only support projects that are commercially viable and meet a strict set of criteria around environmental sustainability.
Qantas has already committed to using 10 per cent sustainable fuels in its overall fuel mix by 2030, while Airbus is working to deliver zero-emission aircraft by 2035.
“The increased use of sustainable aviation fuels will be a key driver to achieve net zero emissions by 2050,” Mr Faury said in a statement.
“But we can’t do this without viable industrial systems to produce and commercialise these energy sources at affordable rates and near to key hubs around the world.
“This is especially true for a country like Australia, which is geographically distant and highly reliant on aviation to remain connected both domestically and internationally.”
Driving down the cost of biofuels will also ensure airfares remain affordable to consumers, Mr Joyce said.
“Aviation is an irreplaceable industry, especially for a country the size of Australia,” he said.
“Future generations are relying on us to get this right so they too can benefit from air travel.”