Airlines Ink Deal to Buy Biodiesel

John Davis

RentechBannerEight major U.S. airlines have signed a deal that will see them buying 1.5 million gallons of renewable biodiesel a year to use in ground equipment starting in 2012.

This press release from the Air Transport Association of America, an industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, says Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, UPS Airlines and US Airways, will buy the green fuel from Rentech, Inc. with the potential for more to join later:

“We are proud to take part in this innovative, collective endeavor that over time, will further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve local air quality through the use of greener fuels,” said Glenn Tilton, ATA board chairman and UAL Corporation chairman, president and CEO. “This transaction promises to be the first of many such green fuel purchase agreements by the commercial aviation industry. It exemplifies the ongoing commitment of airlines and energy suppliers to diversify our fuel sources while contributing to a cleaner environment and adding new jobs to the economy.”

The renewable RenDiesel will be produced at the commercial-scale facility that Rentech is developing in Rialto, Calif., primarily from urban woody green waste such as yard clippings. The fuel is expected to have a low carbon footprint and minimal particulate and other emissions while meeting or exceeding all applicable fuel standards. ASIG, which provides fueling services to many airlines that operate at LAX, will handle receipt and dispensing of the RenDiesel. Other discussions regarding potential alternative fuels agreements are continuing through the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative, of which ATA is a founding member.

“This commercial purchase contract among Rentech, ASIG and the airlines validates the growing demand for synthetic fuels produced by the Rentech Process,” said D. Hunt Ramsbottom, Rentech president and chief executive officer. “The low-emissions profile and near-zero carbon footprint of our renewable RenDiesel will guarantee that the LAX ground service vehicles using this fuel will be among the cleanest and greenest of their kind.”

The agreement is expected to be a model for other renewable fuel suppliers and airports and airlines in the future.