South African Airways launches tobacco-based bio-fuel flights

Boeing, South African Airways (SAA) and low-cost carrier Mango have operated Africa’s first sustainable-fuelled flights powered with tobacco-based biofuels.

The SAA and Mango flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town, operated by a Boeing 737-800, used sustainable biojet fuel produced from Sunchem’s nicotine-free tobacco plant Solaris, refined by AltAir Fuels and supplied by SkyNRG.

Project Solaris, launched in 2014, is an effort from SkyNRG, Sunchem SA, South African Airways and Boeing to develop sustainable biojet fuel from the Solaris crop. In 2015, Project Solaris earned the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) certification, one of the strongest sustainability standards for biomaterials in the world. The RSB certification provides a model to further expand the production of the Solaris crop in a sustainable way.

"It is fitting that on our 100 year anniversary we are flying on fuels ‎that not only power the flight, but ensure a sustainable future for our industry," said Miguel Santos, managing director for Africa, Boeing International. "This project is a great example of environmental stewardship that delivers economic and health benefits to South Africa."



“Over the last two years Sunchem SA successfully worked side by side with local farmers in Marble Hall, Limpopo to grow the Solaris crop and make today's biofuel flight a success. We are very proud about this achievement as it shows that the patented Sunchem Solaris technology opens a new market for Southern Africa and beyond,” said Hayo de Feijter, CEO Sunchem SA.

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