Heathrow Airport launches renewable biofuel breakfast

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The Fly Up is cooked with oil that is then cleaned and recycled into renewable biofuels.

Heathrow partners with Heston Blumenthal’s Perfectionists’ Cafe to create a special new full English.

A first of its kind breakfast at Heathrow, named The Fly Up, which is cooked with oil that is then cleaned and recycled into renewable biofuels, has taken off on 12 March 2024.

The Heathrow Fly Up has been created in partnership with chef Heston Blumenthal to create awareness of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in response to only 14%1] of travellers having heard of it, despite the fact it will play a key role in reducing the carbon footprint of the aviation industry. In the UK aviation sector’s latest net zero roadmap, SAF is the single biggest innovation that will help it hit its Net Zero target by 2050.

Heathrow Airport’s Net Zero plan

Heathrow is committed to decarbonising, and biofuels have a key role to play in its Net Zero plan. On the ground, Heathrow Airport has made the switch to HVO biodiesel with over 95% of its operational diesel fleet now run on the fuel. It is a global airport leader on SAF – setting a goal for 11% of the jet fuel used at Heathrow to be SAF by 2030. Heathrow’s pioneering Sustainable Aviation Fuel scheme incentivises the use of SAF at the airport, approximately halving the price gap between conventional jet fuel and SAF, making it more affordable to airlines. Thanks, in part to this scheme, approximately 10% of the world’s SAF was used at Heathrow in 2022.[2]

The scheme aims to target 2.5% of all fuel used at Heathrow to be SAF in 2024. If achieved, this will amount to up to 155,000 tonnes of fuel. It is a key part of Heathrow’s ongoing efforts to protect the benefits of aviation while building a more sustainable future for the industry.

To help reach Net Zero by 2050, the airport’s shorter term goal is to cut carbon from the air by up to 15%, and on the ground at the airport by at least 45%, by the end of this decade. These goals have been validated by the Science Based Targets initiative[3] as consistent with a 1.5 degree carbon reduction trajectory – Heathrow was the first airport to achieve this validated status with the updated 1.5 degrees standard[4].

SAF is a fuel with a significantly smaller carbon footprint compared to traditional jet fuel and is made from a variety of sources, including used cooking oils[5]. It can be used in aircraft engines alongside regular fuel and the UK aviation sector projects that it will account for around 40% of the aviation industry’s total carbon reductions by 2050.

About the Fly Up breakfast

Heathrow works with waste management service Quatra to collect, clean and recycle the used cooking oils from the Fly Up breakfast. Following collection, the cooking oils and fats undergo treatment and purification to remove organic impurities and water. The processed used oil is then forwarded to Quatra’s partners and transformed into biofuels including Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO).

The launch of the Fly Up comes as new research reveals only one quarter (27%) of the UK believe SAF will make the aviation industry more sustainable[6]. Heathrow is actively encouraging passengers to join its efforts in addressing aviation’s carbon emissions by using climate tech company, CHOOOSE. The platform gives passengers the option to support SAF or certified reforestation projects regardless of their airline or end destination.

The aim is that this will become more commonplace as people learn about the benefits of SAF. Currently 63% would choose to travel more sustainably if they could, yet nine in 10 flyers are unaware of the purpose of SAF – one of the most important factors in reducing the carbon footprint of the aviation industry.[7]

Matt Gorman, Director of Carbon at Heathrow said: “We are delighted to partner with Heston Blumenthal’s The Perfectionists’ Café to introduce the ‘Fly Up’, a breakfast that not only gives passengers a delicious start to the day but will raise awareness about SAF and its potential to transform this industry. By demonstrating how cooking oils can be converted into biofuels, we want people to understand how SAF is a real solution to decarbonise aviation and show how we’re continuing our mission to get to Net Zero by 2050.

“We know that having the right government policies in place is crucial to making this shift happen. We need a mandate for SAF use, as well as a price support mechanism, to de-risk and incentivise investment in UK SAF facilities.”

Carlos Santos, Head Chef at The Perfectionists’ Cafe said: “This is an exciting partnership that we are thrilled to be part of. The ‘Fly Up’ is made up of the best of British ingredients – a breakfast we’re proud of, and even more so as it signifies a positive step towards a more sustainable future for air travel.”

Karolien De Hertogh, Director Sales U.K. and Ireland at United Airlines said: “At United, we are committed to our goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and believe SAF is the nearest term and most promising solution to decarbonise aviation. United became the first airline globally to use a SAF blend in regular operations and we endeavour to increase its availability and usage by looking beyond existing solutions and investing in future potential research, production and technology solutions associated with SAF. We are an airline that recognises the responsibility we have to help solve climate change and welcome Heathrow’s ‘Fly Up’ to raise awareness of SAF.”[8]

The net zero transition for aviation is happening. Heathrow has a clear plan and is working hard to deliver against our ambitious 2030 carbon reduction goals. United was one of the participating airlines in Heathrow’s SAF incentive programme, having received a blend of SAF and conventional jet fuel at the airport in 2023. In November last year, Heathrow celebrated the first ever transatlantic 100% SAF flight flown by a commercial airline, Virgin Atlantic. Its financial incentive to airlines to use SAF more is targeting the equivalent of over 340,000 tonnes of carbon cut from flights. £71m is available to airlines to support the swap to cleaner fuels.

Travellers can learn more about SAF, the role it plays in driving the aviation industry towards decarbonising, and how they can support Heathrow’s push to create a domestic UK SAF industry by visiting www.heathrow.com/SAF.

[1] Opinium Research surveyed 2,000 UK adults about Sustainable Aviation Fuel between 6th – 9th February 2024. The survey was weighted to be nationally representative.

[3] The Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) is a partnership between World Wildlife Fund (WWF), UN Global Compact, World Resources Institute, and the Carbon Disclosure Project, and established to drive ambitious climate action in the private sector by enabling organisations to set science-based emissions reduction targets.

To achieve SBTi validation, Heathrow has committed to reduce absolute scope 1, 2 and scope 3 GHG emissions from upstream transportation and distribution, waste generated in operations, business travel, employee commuting, and downstream leased assets 46.2% by 2030 from a 2019 base year. Heathrow also commits that 67% of its suppliers by emissions covering purchased goods and services and capital goods, will set science-based targets by 2027. Heathrow further commits that it will engage its airline customers in order that 67% of of customers by emissions set science-based targets by 2027.

(Target boundary includes biogenic emissions and removals from bioenergy)

[6] Opinium Research – see footnote 1.

[7] Opinium Research – see footnote 1.

[8] United has purchased a SAF blend at various airports including LHR, but SAF supply at any particular airport is subject to change.  United is not currently purchasing or receiving SAF at LHR.  SAF is less than 0.1% of United’s overall fuel use.  For further information about United’s environmental impact, review our Annual Report on Form 10-K and Corporate Responsibility Report, available at ir.united.com and crreport.united.com.

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