Wizz Air signs agreement with Austria’s OMV to purchase sustainable aviation fuel

The airline can purchase up to 185,000 tonnes of fuel produced from sustainable feedstocks such as cooking oil and green hydrogen

A Wizz Air plane at Ferenc Liszt International Airport in Budapest. Reuters
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Hungary-based low-cost carrier Wizz Air has signed an initial agreement with Austrian energy company OMV for the supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) between 2023 and 2030.

The deal allows Wizz Air to purchase up to 185,000 tonnes of SAF from OMV, the airline said on Tuesday.

“Supporting the production and research of SAF technologies is one of our priorities and we are pleased to co-operate with OMV to further reduce the aviation industry's carbon footprint,” said Owain Jones, development officer at Wizz Air.

The agreement is a “testament to our commitment to ensuring that by choosing to fly with Wizz Air, our customers are making the most responsible choice of air travel available”.

SAF, produced from sustainable feedstocks such as cooking oil and green hydrogen, is a key element in the aviation industry's goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) estimates that SAF could contribute about 65 per cent towards the reduction in emissions needed by the aviation industry to reach net zero in 2050.

But this requires a huge increase in production to meet demand. Iata expects the largest acceleration of production in the 2030s as policy support becomes global, biofuels become competitive compared to fossil kerosene and credible offsets become fewer.

Currently, SAF meets less than 0.1 per cent of jet fuel demand as airlines seeking to use them face a supply crunch.

Airlines are facing pressure from environmental groups to lower their carbon footprint and to build back greener operations after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Commercial aviation contributes about 2 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Wizz Air aims to reduce its carbon emissions intensity by 25 per cent by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.

“The cooperation between OMV and Wizz Air will help us achieve our respective strategic sustainability goals,” said Nina Marczell, OMV vice president for the aviation, fuel distribution and public sector.

“With Wizz Air, we were able to gain a strong international partner. SAF is the most significant path to decarbonising aviation in the coming decades.”

OMV plans to increase SAF production to as much as 700,000 tonnes in 2030, in line with its goal to become a net zero company by 2050.

Global travel demand is close to full recovery following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in most parts of the world last year.

Demand for air travel remained strong in September, with both domestic and international traffic increasing, despite macroeconomic headwinds and geopolitical instability, Iata said in its latest report.

Total traffic in September, measured in revenue passenger kilometres, grew 57 per cent compared to the same month in 2021, the airline body’s monthly report showed.

Globally, traffic is now at 73.8 per cent of September 2019 levels, before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Updated: November 15, 2022, 1:15 PM