Virgin Atlantic has signed an agreement with joint venture partner Delta Air Lines to purchase 10 million US Gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) per year for seven years.
The deal aligns with Virgin Atlantic’s commitment to use 10% SAF by 2030. The airline is already making sustainability changes which have led to a reduction of 36% in carbon emissions over the past decade.
The new SAF agreement represents 20% of the airline’s 2030 SAF target and is equal to fueling over 500 flights across the transatlantic from Los Angeles.
“We know that SAF has a fundamental role to play in aviation decarbonization,” Holly Boyd Boland, VP Corporate Development at Virgin Atlantic, said. “The demand from airlines is clear and Virgin Atlantic is committed to supporting the scale up of SAF production at pace. We cannot meet our collective ambition of Net Zero 2050 without it.”
The SAF will be produced by Gevo and delivered to Los Angeles or San Francisco, increasing the use of SAF from the U.S. West Coast. Gevo’s production process involves separating sugars and proteins from non-edible industrial corn and using the sugars to make SAF and the proteins as feed for livestock. The manure from the livestock can be used in biogas digestors to make renewable natural gas and agricultural fertilizer. The industrial corn is grown using climate-smart agricultural practices.
Earlier this year, Gevo began work on a commercial-scale SAF production site in South Dakota. The new facility will be powered by wind energy and the associated wind energy project is under development.
In May, Delta announced it would offtake 75 million gallons of SAF from Gevo annually for seven years. The transaction was seen as a major jump-start for the sustainable aviation fuel industry.