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Thomson Airways Prepares for First Biofuel Flight

Tomorrow will see passengers heading to their cheap holidays in Lanzarote with Thomson Airways help the airline to make history – flying in an aircraft part-powered by biofuel.

The flight to Arrecife from Birmingham Airport will be powered by a bizarre mixture of fat and standard jet fuel – part of the carrier’s stated intent to expand the use of sustainable biofuels across its air fleet over the next three years.

Thomson Airways is currently awaiting the final go-ahead from officials tasked with ensuring the flight’s safety. The service was meant to take place last July, but was delayed to to the need for final safety clearance. Now it will take off with one engine powered with a half-and-half mixture of Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids, plus A-1 jet fuel.

Speaking ahead of the flight, Thomson Airways managing director Chris Browne said that the regular use of sustainable biofuel could cut aviation emissions by up to 80 per cent over the long-term, adding: “Sustainable biofuels offer us the opportunity to improve our own individual environmental performance as well as contributing to the UK’s carbon reduction target.”

However Thomson will not be the first to do so by a long way – on Monday Spanish flag carrier Iberia, in association with fuel company Repsol, staged the country’s first commercial flight on a biofuel powered aircraft, as part of Spain’s pioneering “Green Flight” project.

The Iberia Airbus A320 flew from Madrid to Barcelona using a mixture of 75 per cent conventional A-1 jet fuel and 25 per cent biofuel from the inedible, oil-producing camelina sativa plant. Iberia said that the flight enjoyed a reduction in CO2 emissions of almost 3,300 lbs – a reduction of almost 20 per cent.

Best of all, the aircraft required no modifications to burn the biofuel mix due to it having exactly the same characteristics as normal jet fuel.