British Airways crew in the airport holding up both a British Flag and a US flag.

Press Release: As US restrictions lift, BA powers JFK flight with SAF

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Press Release hub banner blue with title in red white and blueBritish Airways flight BA001 became the airline’s first flight to depart for the US this morning, as the country lifted restrictions imposed on British travellers for more than 18 months.

BA001, the flight number previously reserved for Concorde, departed Heathrow at 0830 this morning in a synchronised take-off with Virgin Atlantic’s VS3 flight. Both flights were bound for New York, JFK.

The British Airways A350 flight is being directly powered by a 35% blend of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) provided by bp and made from used cooking oil. It is believed to be the first commercial transatlantic flight ever to be operated with such a significant level of the fuel blended with traditional jet fuel*.

The airline’s newest and most fuel-efficient long-haul A350 aircraft are up to 40% more efficient than the Boeing 747-400 Jumbo Jet aircraft that used to operate between London and New York. Combining this modern aircraft efficiency with today’s blend of SAF means the flight’s overall CO2 emissions are more than 50 per cent less than those emitted by the now retired 747 aircraft that previously operated on this route.

In addition, British Airways also offset all emissions associated with the flight, to demonstrate the various ways in which the airline is decarbonising its operations **.

In September, British Airways announced a collaboration with bp to source sustainable aviation fuel in respect of all flights between London, Glasgow and Edinburgh during the UK COP26 conference. British Airways’ parent company International Airlines Group recently committed to operating 10% of its flights using SAF by 2030.

The lifting of US restrictions after more than 600 days means that fully vaccinated Britons are now able to travel freely between the two countries – something that has not happened since March 16, 2020. The changes have enabled British Airways to meaningfully re-start direct services to 17 US destinations. The airline is set to extend its services to 23 US airports this winter, with up to 246 flights a week, more than any other transatlantic carrier. Flights to New York will increase from five to eight per day in December. There will also be double-daily services to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, Dallas, Miami and Toronto, as well as daily services to Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, Atlanta, Denver, Houston and Vancouver.

British Airways is operating 26 flights to the US today.

Rotation

UK Ambassador to the United States, Dame Karen Pierce DCMG, said: “Today is an incredibly exciting and meaningful day for the UK-US relationship. We can all once again travel to each other’s countries to visit families, take holidays, and conduct transatlantic business. I am absolutely thrilled that safe and sustainable travel can fully resume between the UK and the United States.”

British Airways’ Chairman and CEO Sean Doyle, who is travelling on the BA001, said: “Today is about celebrating the UK-US reopening of the transatlantic corridor after more than 600 days of separation, and it was fantastic to be able to mark this by synchronising the take-off of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic flights for the first time ever.

“While flying is vital to connect the world and support the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic, it’s important for us to use this moment to demonstrate how we’re driving our decarbonisation plans forward, and what the future will look like for aviation. That’s why we’ve directly powered our first flight to the US today with sustainable aviation fuel and offset emissions on behalf of our customers. We’re looking forward to the Government’s continued support to ensure the development and mass production of sustainable aviation fuel continues at pace.”

Four aviation decarbonisation projects supported by British Airways recently received Government funding as part of the Department of Transport’s Green Fuels, Green Skies (GFGS) competition. All of these projects have a clear potential to produce SAF capable of reducing emissions by more than 70% on a lifecycle basis when used in place of conventional fossil jet fuel***.

Notes to Editors

  • Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is produced from sustainable feedstocks and is similar in chemistry to traditional fossil jet fuel. Using SAF results in a reduction in carbon emissions compared to the traditional jet fuel it replaces over the lifecycle of the fuel and can drop straight into existing fuel supply infrastructure and aircraft. It has the potential to provide a lifecycle carbon reduction of more than 80% compared to the traditional jet fuel it replaces
  • *Current regulations stipulate that the maximum sustainable aviation fuel blend passenger aircraft can use is 50%. Today’s flight is operating using 35% sustainable aviation fuel and 65% traditional jet fuel
  • **Carbon projects supported through voluntary carbon offsetting include the protection of the rainforests, improved cookstove distribution and the replacement of fossil fuel with wind and solar power
  • ***British Airways is partnering with technology company Velocys on the Altalto project to build a commercial waste-to-SAF plant in Immingham, Lincolnshire. Project Speedbird is a collaboration between British Airways, LanzaJet and Nova Pangaea, using waste wood, with a goal of producing 100 million litres of sustainable fuel a year from 2025, sufficient to decarbonise 1,400 flights from London to New York operated by an A350 aircraft. The airline is also working on two further decarbonization projects with LanzaTech and LanzaJet that, if successful, could each produce more than 100 million litres a year of SAF. The first would involve capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and converting it into SAF. The second would support the development of a SAF plant in Port Talbot, South Wales that would produce SAF from waste and industrial gases, with the potential to support significant jobs in the area
  • More information about the Department of Transport’s Green Fuels, Green Skies (GFGS) competition can be found here.
  • More information about the projects that British Airways is supporting can be found here
  • In September the airline announced that its customers can purchase sustainable aviation fuel to reduce their carbon footprint via its not-for-profit organisation Pure Leapfrog. This is in addition to the existing option for customers to offset their emissions. More details on British Airways’ partnership with Pure Leapfrog to enable customers to offset their flights can be found here
  • The majority of British Airways’ services to New York are operated on Boeing 777 aircraft – the BA001 service operating on an A350 from London Heathrow to New York, JFK on Monday November 8 is a demonstrator flight, to highlight the airline’s decarbonisation initiatives and what’s possible by using the latest technology
  • British Airways retired its final Boeing 747 (Jumbo Jet) aircraft in 2020

 Featured image credited to British Airways