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Airbus And Qantas Are Nearing Their First Sustainable Aircraft Fuel Investment

Aria Thomas

Feb 27, 2023 14:02


Airbus SE (OTC:EADSY) and Qantas Airways Ltd plan to disclose the first investment from a $200 million fund to develop a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry in Australia within the next month, according to an Airbus executive.

The companies established the fund after Qantas committed to incorporating 10% SAF into its fuel blend by 2030 and placed a multibillion-dollar order for narrowbody and wide body Airbus aircraft.

Australia lacks a SAF industry, so Qantas must purchase the petroleum at international airports.

Stephen Forshaw, Airbus' chief representative for Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific, stated that the manufacturer and Qantas met weekly to discuss investments of more than $1 million in early-stage SAF initiatives in Australia.

"The first investment has been made, but it has not yet been finalized," he said in an interview prior to Tuesday's opening of the Australia International Airshow. "We've both consented to it, and I believe we'll make an announcement about its completion within the next month or so."

Qantas declined to comment.

According to Forshaw, the majority of investments under consideration involve seed financing, in which the partners may take a minority equity stake.

"Some of them could even predate Series A. It may afford us the opportunity or right of first refusal to invest in Series A, Series B, or beyond "he said. "The pace will then determine if we wish to do so or if we believe it is time to offer it up to other investors."

Given the limited availability of feedstock such as oils and fats, he deferred to specify the type of project that would receive the initial investment. However, he stated that Australia had a great deal of long-term potential to use solar energy for projects that would help meet demand.

Andrew Parker, the chief sustainability officer for Qantas, told analysts last week that the airline could achieve its 2030 goal of 10% SAF through purchases in London and California alone, if necessary, but noted that 70% of the airline's total fuel was sourced from Australia.

"We recognize we must play a leading position in developing a domestic industry," he said, adding that domestic production could begin in the latter half of the decade.

Qantas anticipates that by 2050, approximately 60 percent of its fuel will be SAF in order to satisfy its target of net zero emissions.