Introducing Sustainable Aviation Fuel means Gatwick Airport can strike the balance of creating jobs and not causing 'undue damage to the environment at the same time', says MP

Henry Smith MP has hailed a ‘historic day’ for Gatwick Airport and the aviation industry.

On Tuesday, the first ever flight using Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) departed form the North Terminal to Glasgow.

SAF was introduced for the first time at Gatwick through a collaboration between Q8Aviation, easyJet, Gatwick Airport Ltd and Neste.

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First easyJet flight takes off from Gatwick Airport using sustainable aviation f...
Henry Smith MP with the first ever flight from Gatwick to use Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Neste’s market-leading sustainable aviation fuel, which is fully certified, is produced from 100% renewable and sustainable waste and residue raw materials, such as used cooking oil and animal fat waste. In its neat form and over its life cycle, Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel can achieve a reduction of up to 80% of greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil jet fuel use.

Of the 42 flights running Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel blend, 39 of these will be the easyJet flights operating from Gatwick to Glasgow throughout the COP26 Climate Change Conference, which runs from October 31 to November 12.

And Mr Smith, MP for Crawley, said: “This really is a historic day for Gatwick Airport so have the first sustainable fuels flight leaving and also easyJet will also be operating this sustainable fuel flights during COP26 environment conference in Glasgow in a few week’s time.

“This is the future of aviation. There’s always a balance to be struck with the environmental impact of aviation and the economic contribution it makes particularly to a local area like Crawley.

“I think with aviation fuels increasing it means that we can strike that right balance of creating jobs in this sector but not doing undue damage to the environment at the same time.”

Gatwick are currently running their public consultation into bringing the Northern Runway into more routine use and this would see 100,000 more flights by 2039.

Campaign groups such as CAGNE are against the plans because of the threat to the environment.

And Mr Smith believes there is a balance to be struck and that the airport must look at ground operations as well.

He said: “There are certain campaign groups, both who encourage Gatwick expansion and those who are against Gatwick operations and those polarised groups probably will remain.

“The key thing is we will have economic activity at Gatwick Airport whether the Northern Runway project goes ahead or not and that activity needs to be as sustainable as possible from an environmental perspective.

“But that also means ground operations as well. Most emissions are from ground operations around airports rather than the aircraft themselves and that’s why the tanker fueling this sustainable flight is electric powered.

"So it’s important Gatwick moves towards more sustainable electric powered powered ground operations in addition to the aircraft, even though it’s the aircraft that get all the attention.”

But one aspect of life at Gatwick Mr Smith was happy to see on Tuesday was the airport being busier.

He said: “I have been a visitor to Gatwick a number of times with work in the last 18 months during the pandemic and sometimes it’s been like a ghost town so it’s good to see the airport beginning to bustle again.”