Airline operates Britain’s first biofuel flight

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8th Oct 2011
Written by: Andrew Tipp

Thomson operates the UK’s first flight fuelled by cooking oil

Most travellers would welcome airlines using sustainable fuel to get them to their gap year destinations, and this week one company may have taken a big step towards that goal.

On Thursday Breaking Travel News reported that Tui-owned airline Thomson Airways had operated Britain’s first commercial flight powered by biofuel.

The flight saw 232 passengers travel on a Boeing 757-200 from Birmingham Airport in the UK to Arrecife, Lanzarote in the Canary Isles. The four-hour flight involved one engine being filled with a mixture of regular jet fuel together with hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids, which are produced from used cooking oil.

Chris Browne, Thomson Airways Managing Director, said: “This is a very exciting day for Thomson Airways and a further step in our commitment to invest in sustainable aviation biofuel.”

Browne believes that moving to air travel powered by biofuel will help achieve the Government’s carbon budget which commits the UK to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% by 2025.

He added: “Sustainable biofuel has the potential to reduce aviation emissions by up to 80% in the long term.”

However, not everyone has been impressed by Thomson’s ‘landmark’ flight. Some environmental groups have heavily criticised the implication that this week’s event heralds a new dawn in green aviation.

Planes fuelled by chip fat?

ActionAid described the move to biofuels as ‘little more than greenwash’, while Friends of the Earth claimed that biofuels were unsustainable.

Biofuel costs more than ordinary jet fuel, and there has been speculation that the additional cost of the greener fuel could be passed onto customers.

Story and quotes sourced from Breaking Travel News

Do you think the Thomson flight represents a genuine commitment to cleaner travel? Or was it simply a publicity stunt? Would you be prepared to pay more for a flight powered by biofuel? Let us know your thoughts by leaving some comments below.

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