The Fly Up: Heathrow launches renewable biofuel breakfast

A first of its kind breakfast at Heathrow, named The Fly Up, which is cooked with oil that is then cleaned and recycled into renewable biofuels, has taken off today.

The Heathrow Fly Up has been created in partnership with chef Heston Blumenthal to create awareness of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in response to only 14 per cent of travellers having heard of it, despite the fact it will play a key role in reducing the carbon footprint of the aviation industry. In the UK aviation sector’s latest net zero roadmap, SAF is the single biggest innovation that will help it hit its Net Zero target by 2050.

Heathrow is committed to decarbonising, and biofuels have a key role to play in its Net Zero plan. On the ground, Heathrow has made the switch to HVO biodiesel with over 95 per cent of its operational diesel fleet now run on the fuel. It is a global airport leader on SAF – setting a goal for 11 per cent of the jet fuel used at Heathrow to be SAF by 2030. Heathrow’s pioneering Sustainable Aviation Fuel scheme incentivises the use of SAF at the airport, approximately halving the price gap between conventional jet fuel and SAF, making it more affordable to airlines. Thanks, in part to this scheme, approximately 10 per cent of the world’s SAF was used at Heathrow in 2022.

To help reach Net Zero by 2050, the airport’s shorter term goal is to cut carbon from the air by up to 15 per cent, and on the ground at the airport by at least 45 per cent, by the end of this decade. These goals have been validated by the Science Based Targets initiative as consistent with a 1.5 degree carbon reduction trajectory – Heathrow was the first airport to achieve this validated status with the updated 1.5 degrees standard.

SAF is a fuel with a significantly smaller carbon footprint compared to traditional jet fuel and is made from a variety of sources, including used cooking oils5. It can be used in aircraft engines alongside regular fuel and the UK aviation sector projects that it will account for around 40 per cent of the aviation industry’s total carbon reductions by 2050.

Heathrow works with waste management service Quatra to collect, clean and recycle the used cooking oils from the Fly Up breakfast. Following collection, the cooking oils and fats undergo treatment and purification to remove organic impurities and water. The processed used oil is then forwarded to Quatra’s partners and transformed into biofuels including Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO).

The launch of the Fly Up comes as new research reveals only one quarter (27 per cent) of the UK believe SAF will make the aviation industry more sustainable6. Heathrow is actively encouraging passengers to join its efforts in addressing aviation’s carbon emissions by using climate tech company, CHOOOSE. The platform gives passengers the option to support SAF or certified reforestation projects regardless of their airline or end destination.

The aim is that this will become more commonplace as people learn about the benefits of SAF. Currently 63 per cent would choose to travel more sustainably if they could, yet nine in 10 flyers are unaware of the purpose of SAF – one of the most important factors in reducing the carbon footprint of the aviation industry.

Matt Gorman, Director of Carbon at Heathrow said: “We are delighted to partner with Heston Blumenthal’s The Perfectionists’ Café to introduce the ‘Fly Up’, a breakfast that not only gives passengers a delicious start to the day but will raise awareness about SAF and its potential to transform this industry. By demonstrating how cooking oils can be converted into biofuels, we want people to understand how SAF is a real solution to decarbonise aviation and show how we’re continuing our mission to get to Net Zero by 2050.

“We know that having the right government policies in place is crucial to making this shift happen. We need a mandate for SAF use, as well as a price support mechanism, to de-risk and incentivise investment in UK SAF facilities.”

Carlos Santos, Head Chef at The Perfectionists’ Cafe said: “This is an exciting partnership that we are thrilled to be part of. The ‘Fly Up’ is made up of the best of British ingredients – a breakfast we’re proud of, and even more so as it signifies a positive step towards a more sustainable future for air travel.”

Karolien De Hertogh, Director Sales U.K. and Ireland at United Airlines said: “At United, we are committed to our goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and believe SAF is the nearest term and most promising solution to decarbonise aviation. United became the first airline globally to use a SAF blend in regular operations and we endeavour to increase its availability and usage by looking beyond existing solutions and investing in future potential research, production and technology solutions associated with SAF. We are an airline that recognises the responsibility we have to help solve climate change and welcome Heathrow’s ‘Fly Up’ to raise awareness of SAF.”

The net zero transition for aviation is happening. Heathrow has a clear plan and is working hard to deliver against our ambitious 2030 carbon reduction goals. United was one of the participating airlines in Heathrow’s SAF incentive programme, having received a blend of SAF and conventional jet fuel at the airport in 2023. In November last year, Heathrow celebrated the first ever transatlantic 100% SAF flight flown by a commercial airline, Virgin Atlantic. Its financial incentive to airlines to use SAF more is targeting the equivalent of over 340,000 tonnes of carbon cut from flights. £71m is available to airlines to support the swap to cleaner fuels.

The article The Fly Up: Heathrow launches renewable biofuel breakfast first appeared in TravelDailyNews International.

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