Finnair operated its first biofuel-powered flight from San Francisco to Helsinki Aug. 5, with a second to follow Aug. 7. 

The Airbus A330 flights, which are part of Finnair’s “Push for Change” carbon reduction program, are operated with a biofuel mix of 12%, cutting total CO2 emissions for the two flights by approximately 32 tons, the airline said. 

The sustainable biofuel is produced in California from used cooking oil, which does not compete with food production or the agriculture industry, Finnair said.

Aviation’s contribution to climate change is in the spotlight, with some European governments calling for a Europe-wide tax on aviation fuel and the French government announcing that it would impose an eco-tax on flights departing France from 2021. 

The French move has been criticized by airlines that say that a tax will hamper their efforts to invest in new more fuel-efficient fleets and in the development of new technologies and environmentally friendly fuels. 

“The launch of our Push for Change initiative was an important step for Finnair in order to provide our customers with the opportunity to conveniently offset or decrease the emissions from their travel,” Finnair SVP-communications and corporate responsibility Arja Suominen said. “We have been pleased with the early phases of the initiative so far and we are now excited to move forward and fly our two first biofuel flights supported entirely by the Push for Change contributions.”

The airline is working with biofuels partners SkyNRG and World Energy in San Francisco. Shell Aviation provided logistics and supply chain support for the project.

Helen Massy-Beresford,