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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Garuda Indonesia commits to pursuit of biofuels

Garuda Indonesia is planning a switch to biofuels in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, a report said.

Indonesia's national carrier recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), committing to improving air travel services as well as to using biofuel, the Jakarta Globe reported.

"We are in the process of changing from avtur [aviation fuel] to biofuel. Not a single [domestic] airline has done it yet. We will be implementing this plan in stages and it will not necessarily be achieved within this year," Garuda Commissioner Wendy Aritonang said.

The concept of using biofuel for jet engines is not new, with plant-based biofuels already being tested by the Boeing Corporation in conjunction with airlines such as British Airways and Continental Airlines. However, it remains a significant factor in the pursuit of sustainable aviation.

"We have never seen progress in one file for sustainable use like you see right now. Progress is so immense. The technology is there," Chief of the Environmental Unit International Civil Aviation Organization, Jane Hupe said.

"But the elements that we need to address include price of, course. The market needs to be prepared for this. Not only is the technology more expensive, but also how do we balance the market in regard to air ticket fares, considering the stiff competition that exists already with all airlines using normal aviation fuel?"

In 2005, the air travel sector was responsible for only three percent of Indonesia's carbon emissions, whilst land transportation was responsible for 89 percent, the report said.

The smaller contribution should not affect the airline industry's pursuit of sustainability, according to the Deputy Minister for Environmental Damage Control at the Environment Ministry, Masnellyarti Hilman.

"The industry is much more ready, for instance, from a technological standpoint, than land transportation," he said.

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