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South Africa’s OR Tambo airport to introduce biodiesel into operations

South African Airways (SAA) has welcomed the scaling up of the local sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) supply in South Africa, as the country’s OR Tambo International Airport looks to introduce biodiesel into its ground-handling operations.

Together with its wholly-owned subsidiary Mango Airlines, SAA made history in 2016 as the first airline in Africa to operate commercial flights powered by SAF produced from Sunchem’s tobacco plant, Solaris.

Known as Project Solaris, the approach demonstrated that it was possible to use a locally produced feedstock to manufacture bio-jet fuel for commercial aviation, which meets all necessary sustainability criteria required by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB).

The new follow-up project, Project Reya Fofa, will introduce Solaris-based biodiesel into the ground-handling operations at OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa. It aims to support a feasible scale-up of feedstock production and infrastructure, so that a fully localised value chain for a refinery producing hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) may be achieved in the coming years to produce bio-jet fuel and green diesel.

The next phase will be rolled out as a collaboration between Sunchem, Swissport, The Royal Bafokeng Nation and iLive, and is endorsed by SAA.

SAA has set a goal of blending 50% of its fuel with locally and environmentally sustainably produced biofuel. The airline is working to become the leading African carrier to operation biofuel-powered flights on a sustainable basis within the African continent.

Reya Fofa is Setswana and Sesotho for ‘We are flying’ and demonstrates the vision of the project to be inclusive and transformative.

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