Iberia, in collaboration with Repsol, operates its first long-haul flights with biofuel produced from waste in Spain

Press Release 01/06/2022 12:00
  • The first of these is the inaugural flight between Madrid and Washington, which uses fuel produced from waste at the Petronor refinery in Bilbao. The flight has been operated with an Airbus A330-200, with capacity for 288 passengers, one of the airline's most efficient airplanes. 
  • Iberia will use the same biofuel, produced from waste, on two other flights: the inaugural flight to Dallas and the first post-pandemic flight to San Francisco
  • These first long-haul flights with a low carbon footprint represent a further step in the airline industry's ecological transition through the use of biofuels and improved energy efficiency. The use of biofuels on these three flights will reduce emissions by 125 tons of CO2. 
  • This initiative arises from the collaboration agreement between the two companies towards a more sustainable mobility that was signed last July. This last year, both companies have collaborated in the AVIATOR project, to analyze the impact of aviation emissions on air quality at airports; they have operated the first Madrid - Bilbao flight with sustainable fuel from waste; and Iberia has joined the SHYNE (Spanish Hydrogen Network) consortium, led by Repsol, to accelerate the development of green hydrogen in Spain. 
  • During the next two years, Repsol and Iberia will also collaborate in the operation of flights with a percentage of biofuel that can reach up to 50%, produced at Repsol’s industrial complex in Cartagena, as well as with synthetic SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) produced at the Petronor refinery. Additionally, they will collaborate in a project for the use of HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) in vehicles for airport services.

01 June 2022 - 12:00 CEST | PDF | 129.50 KB

Repsol and Iberia have taken another step forward in their alliance to reduce emissions in the aeronautical sector with the operation of the first long-haul flights using biofuels produced in Spain from waste from the agri-food industry that is not suitable for human consumption. Specifically, the biojet used belongs to a batch produced in 2021 at the Repsol Group's Petronor refinery, located in Bilbao in northern Spain.

The first flight to incorporate the biofuel inaugurated the Madrid-Washington route with a twin-engine Air-bus A330-200 aircraft that has a capacity of 288 passengers and is currently one of the airline's most efficient airplanes. This A330-200 MTOW 242 TN version has a maximum take-off capacity of 242 tons, consumes 15% less fuel than the fleet it replaces and is, therefore, more environmentally friendly.

The second will be flight IB6193 from Madrid to San Francisco, a route Iberia is resuming today after the pandemic, and the third will be Iberia's inaugural flight from Madrid to Dallas which will take off at 15:55. Both are operated with the Airbus A330-200 fleet, as well.

With these three flights, Iberia and Repsol have today reduced 125 tons of CO2 emissions into the atmos-phere, thanks to the improved fuel efficiency provided by the fleet used and the use of the sustainable biofuel.

According to Josu Jon Imaz, CEO of Repsol: "As a sector the aeronautical industry needs solutions such as biofuels for a decarbonization process like the one we are currently undergoing. Repsol and Iberia's commitments place us at the forefront in this aspect. Our commitment also consolidates our position as a multi-energy company with the objective of achieving zero net emissions by 2050, making us the first company in the sector to adopt this ambitious goal.”

For his part, Javier Sánchez-Prieto, Chairman and CEO of Iberia, said that "aviation faces a very big challenge that can only be met by taking steps like today's, promoting the production of fuels of sustainable origin in sufficient quantity and at competitive prices, which will allow us to advance in the ecological tran-sition of the airline industry.”

This initiative is part of the collaboration agreement towards a more sustainable mobility, signed by Repsol and Iberia last July, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) promoted by the United Na-tions through the 2030 Agenda. Since then, both companies have collaborated in the AVIATOR project, to analyze the impact of aviation emissions on air quality at airports; in November they operated the first Madrid - Bilbao flight with sustain-able fuel produced from waste; and in January this year, Iberia joined the SHYNE consortium (Spanish Hydrogen Network), led by Repsol, to accelerate the development of green hydrogen in Spain. The strategic agreement between Repsol and Iberia includes a roadmap for the promotion of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) for the coming years. In the flights operated today, Iberia and Repsol are ahead of the obligation of incorporating 2% SAF that the European Union is setting for 2025, through the Fit For 55 package. Today’s flights to Washington, Dallas, and San Francisco already incorporate 2%.

In the future, Iberia and Repsol will operate new flights with an increasing percentage of biofuel blends that can reach up to 50%. This product will be produced at Spain's first advanced biofuels plant, which is scheduled to come on stream in 2023 in Cartagena. Also in 2024, Repsol and Iberia plan to operate with synthetic SAF (e-fuel) produced at the Petronor complex in Bilbao. In addition, both companies are working on a project to use HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) in airport service vehicles. Repsol is a pioneer in the manufacture of SAF in Spain. With the production of fuels in its industrial com-plexes, it anticipates the different measures that the European institutions have established to promote the use of sustainable aviation fuels. In this sense, advanced biofuel produced from waste is included in the list of sustainable fuels in the European Renewable Energy Directive.

The batch of biojet used was the third one manufactured by Repsol and the first one in the Spanish market produced from waste as a raw material. The multi-energy company thus integrates circular economy tools into the process, transforming waste into high value-added products such as low carbon footprint fuels. This batch joins two previous batches produced from biomass at Repsol's refineries in Puertollano and Tarragona.

To advance in the decarbonization of the airline industry, Iberia is basing its sustainability strategy on four pillars: the green transition of the airline industry, which includes all fleet renewal initiatives, more efficient operations, and the use of sustainable aviation fuels, among other initiatives; a more sustainable travel experience for its customers, through the digitization of services, the progressive elimination of plastics on board, the development of its waste management system, and carbon footprint offsetting; its support for R&D&I; and the training and awareness of sustainability among its employees.