Sustainable Development

Fuelling a reduction in greenhouse gases

We can’t go electric yet, but we can go bio

Globally, more than 4,000 flights took off every hour in 2017. As flying becomes ever more popular, it is becoming increasingly important to deal with its environmental impact. At Cathay we have been working on reducing the emissions from the jet fuel used on our flights.

Car manufacturers may be able to develop new electric vehicles that don’t burn fuel, but for an international airline like Cathay this is not yet a feasible option. Planes are propelled by jet fuel, which is processed from crude oil, a fossil fuel. These typically contain a lot of carbon. When jet fuel is burned, the carbon in the fuel is released into the air and along with oxygen forms carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Around the globe, governments and businesses are trying to find ways to reduce the amount of carbon in the air to combat climate change. For Cathay that has meant investing in biofuels. One of the ways we can reduce our emissions is through using more sustainable fuels in our planes.

Biofuels aren’t extracted from the ground like fossil fuels, which take thousands of years to form, they are made from biological material such as crops, agricultural waste, or even municipal waste that would otherwise go to landfill. They still contain carbon, but biofuel sources can be replenished rapidly. Not only this, but plants absorb carbon as they grow, helping to compensate for the carbon they produce when burnt. What they make, they take away – neat! This means that when compared to traditional jet fuel, biofuel can reduce lifetime greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80%.

We are constantly investing in new technology to improve our environmental performance through new planes and the fuels that power them. Find our how we have been using biofuel to bring home our new aircraft from Airbus since 2016!

Fuelling the delivery flight of one of our new planes with a biofuel blend.