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21 Jul 2009
Cathay Pacific Joins Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group

Cathay Pacific Airways today announced that it has joined the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group - an airline-led industry working group united by the need to accelerate the commercialisation of aviation biofuels by developing robust, global sustainability criteria and best practices for the aviation biofuel markets.

Alongside Cathay Pacific, a number of other airlines - Alaska Airlines, British Airways, TUIfly and Virgin Blue - have joined the group as its newest members. Existing members include Air France, Air New Zealand, ANA (All Nippon Airways), Cargolux, Gulf Air, Japan Airlines, KLM, SAS and Virgin Atlantic Airways. Aircraft manufacturer Boeing and Honeywell's UOP, a refining technology developer, are associate members.

Since its launch in autumn 2008, the Users Group has brought together airlines, manufacturers and environmental organisations to conduct research projects, and develop practices and principles aimed at reducing the industry's environmental impact through the use of sustainable biofuels. Users Group members have pledged to work together under the Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) process, the global de factor standard for sustainable biofuels.

The Users Group's focus is on making renewable fuel sources available that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while lessening commercial aviation's dependence on fossil fuels and potentially reducing the price volatility associated with petroleum fuels. All RSB and Users Group members agree that working together, across sectors, interests, and regions, is the best approach to ensure that the next generations of biofuel develop in a sustainable manner.

Cathay Pacific Head of Environmental Affairs Mark Watson said: "Cathay Pacific is pleased to become part of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, which we believe will play a very important role in developing a biofuel solution for the industry and, in so doing, help to reduce aviation's impact on the environment. Joining the Users Group dovetails with Cathay Pacific's own considerable environmental efforts and those of the aviation industry as a whole."

To be eligible for membership of the Users Group, group members must subscribe to sustainability criteria that stipulate the following:

  • The plant sources for jet fuel should be not compete with plants grown for food; in addition, the cultivation of those plant sources should not jeopardize drinking water supplies nor should it reduce biodiversity.
  • Total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from growing, harvesting, processing, and using jet biofuels should be significantly reduced compared to those associated with jet fuels from fossil sources.
  • In developing economies, development projects should improve socio-economic conditions for small-scale farmers who rely on agriculture to feed themselves and their families; nor should they require the involuntary displacement of local populations.
  • Areas of high value for conservation and native eco-systems should not be cleared and converted for jet fuel plant source development.

Cathay Pacific's environmental commitment is explained in detail in its recently published Corporate Social Responsibility Report 2008. The report can be downloaded in PDF format from the airline's website.