Beleaguered Australian airline Qantas might have boosted its image Monday when it announced that it is going to launch a flight using sustainable fuel. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said that the flight, scheduled for early 2012, will be the first of its kind in Australia, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
"We want the flight to be an inspiration, a preview of a sustainable future for Australian aviation," Joyce told members of the press.
According to News.com.au, the flight will be "powered by the equivalent of cooking oil." Qantas has signed agreements with two manufacturers of alternative airplane fuels: Solazyme, which is developing algae-based fuels and Solena, which is testing water-based fuels.
Qantas has been under scrutiny lately due to a heated labor dispute in the company. In late October, the airline was forced to ground its flights due to strikes, but its flight schedule returned to normal shortly thereafter when an Australian court intervened. Labor negotiations resumed earlier this month.
Though Qantas might be Australia's first carrier to test a biofuel flight, according to The Sydney Morning Herald Virgin is hot on its heels. Sir Richard Branson's company hopes to have an Australian-based testing facility in 2013, with commercial scale production the following year. It also announced in October that a new low-carbon aviation fuel was in the works for Virgin Atlantic.
Recently, UK-based Thomson Airways launched a flight using alternative fuels in October. It was the first UK airline to fly passengers using biofuel.
The use of biofuels by airlines has become a major trend in the industry. Other airlines to use or test sustainable fuels include KLM, Lufthansa, Finnair, Aeromexico, United and Alaska Airlines.