Speaking at Sustainable Skies World Summit 2024, Director of Sustainability at British Airways Carrie Harris outlined BA’s progression towards its decarbonisation strategy; highlighting that operational efficiency, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and carbon removals will all play an equally integral part in the airline’s route to net zero.

As part of the IAG Group – the world’s first airline group to commit to net zero emissions by 2050 – British Airways’ commitment to sustainability “really started back in 2019 and since then, what we’ve been doing is really embedding that in the BA programme,” explained Harris. “We’ve moved from a long track record of action for advocating for carbon pricing and supporting the development of CORSIA, but in 2021, we really moved again to put sustainability right at the heart of British Airways’ strategy. That was with the launch of our sustainability programme, BA  Better World”.

Elaborating on a simplistic overview of the measures BA deems critical in its net zero pathway, “approximately a third will come from operational efficiency and investment in new and future aircraft, around a third to a half will come from sustainable aviation fuel, and the remainder will come from carbon removals,” Harris highlighted.

Regarding the use of SAF, BA has been working towards supporting and implementing the use of the fuel for over a decade now, having taken its first SAF delivery from Philips 66 three years ago in the UK. The airline was also “delighted” to witness LanzaJet’s completion of the world’s first alcohol-to-jet (AtJ) SAF facility – a company BA has also invested in – and, more recently, announced its first power-to-liquid (PtL)-produced SAF deal with Twelve. “We’re on track, we’ve currently secured around a third of our supply that we will need to achieve that 10% [government mandated] target,” added Harris, describing the upcoming UK government mandate as “very welcome,” and something “very closely aligned to the targets that we’d already set for ourselves across IAG and British Airways”.

Although British Airways’ SAF use currently stands at just over 1%, Harris believes that momentum is building; noting that the carrier used approximately five times more SAF in 2023 than it did in the previous year. SAF’s use is really making “an impact in terms of [British Airways’] carbon intensity,” she added.

Turning to alternative sustainability strategies, British Airways also became the first airline to invest in hydrogen-electric aircraft developer ZeroAvia back in 2020, alongside work to “pioneer the market for carbon removals. “I’m really excited we’ve been able to help stimulate the carbon removal market,” continued Harris, describing British Airways’ first-of-a-kind partnership (signed in December 2023) with CUR8, UNDO and Standard Chartered intended to help scale solutions in the UK. “We’re keen to see all sorts of removals accelerated as fast as possible,” she concluded.
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