Repsol and Iberia make the first flight with biofuel produced from waste in Spain

Repsol and Iberia have completed the Madrid–Bilbao route with sustainable fuel produced from waste at the Petronor Industrial Complex. The flight was operated with an Iberia Airbus A320neo, one of the airline company’s most efficient aircrafts. This low-carbon footprint flight is a further step towards the decarbonization of the aviation sector thanks to the use of biofuels and improved energy efficiency. It has resulted in a re-duction in emissions of 1.4 tons of CO2. Aena, in line with its role as a promoter and facilitator of the decarbonization of air transport, supports this initiative and is also working on collaborative projects to promote the production of sustainable fuel to encourage its use by airlines. This is the first initiative arising from the collaboration agreement towards a more sustainable mobility signed by Repsol and Iberia last July, which includes the development of low-carbon aviation fuels.

Repsol and Iberia have made the first flight using biofuel produced from waste in Spain. The biojet used belongs to the batch produced last August at the Petronor Industrial Complex, which is located near Bilbao and belongs to the Repsol Group. The scheduled flight IB 426 was operated with an Airbus A320neo aircraft of the Spanish airline, with a capacity of 180 passengers and currently one of the most efficient aircrafts in the world. Equipped with Leap-1st CFM engines, Iberia’s A320neo aircrafts reduce noise by 50% and are more environmentally friendly, emitting 5,000 tons of CO2 less per year and 50% less NOx. The flight also performed more efficiently through a flight operation that improves fuel efficiency by reach-ing the optimum altitude level in the climb and descent phases. 

In this operation, Iberia and REPSOL have counted with the participation of Aena that works collaboratively with the different agents to promote the global decarbonization of the air transport sector. It supports this initiative by also working on collaborative projects to promote the production of sustainable fuels, with the aim of encouraging its use by airlines.

On the Madrid-Bilbao route, this flight has managed to reduce the emission of 1.4 tons of CO2, thanks to the improved fuel efficiency provided by the aircraft, together with the use of the sustainable biofuel. In addition, a zero-emissions electric-powered aviation fuel supply vehicle has been used for refueling. All ground operations (loading and unloading of baggage, assistance to the aircraft, and towing to the runway) have used the most efficient vehicles that Iberia Airport Services has deployed throughout its network of airports in Spain, such as the mototok, an advanced electric vehicle controlled by remote control to perform the push back maneuver to the aircraft. On board, Iberia is also testing different packaging solutions to replace single-use plastics. 

The batch of jet biofuel used is the third manufactured by Repsol and the first on the Spanish market produced from waste as raw material. The energy company thus integrates circular economy instruments in the process, transforming waste into high added-value products such as low carbon footprint fuels. Two previous batches were produced from biomass at Repsol’s industrial complexes in Puertollano and Tarra-gona. 

This initiative is part of the collaboration agreement towards a more sustainable mobility signed by Repsol and Iberia last July and is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) promoted by the United Nations through the 2030 Agenda. The agreement translates into the development of ambitious joint pro-grams and activities in three areas: the development of low-carbon aviation fuels, the production of elec-tricity and renewable hydrogen to decarbonize Iberia’s fleet of vehicles, and the ecological transition to more sustainable facilities through new technologies based on artificial intelligence, among others. 

It is a first milestone in the roadmap of the agreement, which envisages future flights using biofuels with a low carbon footprint to achieve a more sustainable and efficient mobility in the aviation sector. Electrifica-tion is not viable at the moment and renewable hydrogen still requires a technological breakthrough in aircraft, so biofuels will be the fastest and most efficient option for reducing emissions in air transport over the next few years.