Global Aviation Industry To Bank On Biofuels


June 07--SINGAPORE -- The world's leading airline association Tuesday said it would bank on biofuels for future air traffic, but aviation biofuels currently are too expensive and rare.

The industry would like to fly 100 per cent jet biofuels as soon as possible, Paul Steele, director for aviation environment of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said in Singapore.

He said ecologically harmful carbon emissions from 1 ton of biofuels were 80 per cent lower than from 1 ton of jet kerosene.

However, it is unrealistic for the industry to switch to biofuels now is because of the high price and a lack of supply, he said at IATA's annual general meeting.

According to IATA, global airlines use about 230 billion litres of jet kerosene per year.

The industry group said it was striving to replace 6 per cent of its jet fuel with biofuel by 2020.

Alternative fuels should be made from sustainable, non-food biomass sources like algae, babassu, camelina, halophytes, jatropha and switch grass to ensure that crops for aviation would not use resources needed for food crops, it said.

Many biofuels made from food crops are unsuitable for jets.

Steele said carbon emissions from the aviation industry came to 649 million tons annually, accounting for 2 per cent of global man-made carbon emissions.

Since 2004, the industry has saved 3.3 billion tons of carbon emissions due to better fuel efficiency, he added.

"We see emissions trading as a useful tool," Steele said.

But he opposed the European Union's solo effort to include airlines flying to and from Europe in its trading scheme for emissions beginning next year, which would force carriers to buy permits for carbon emissions above a certain level.

"The EU has probably over extended itself in the way it's trying to impose it," Steele said.

At the final day of the IATA meeting, outgoing chief Giovanni Bisignani said "the EU trading scheme is illegal."

After 10 years at the helm, Bisignani is to hand over the IATA leadership to former Cathay Pacific chief executive Tony Tyler, 56, from July 1.

IATA comprises of some 230 airlines, representing 93 per cent of global air traffic.