Virgin Atlantic to operate first transatlantic 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) flight

The airline has received UK government funding for the flight to show how SAF could replace conventional jet fuel.
Date 11 May 2023

Virgin Atlantic to operate world’s first transatlantic 100% SAF flight

The world’s first transatlantic 100% SAF flight will take off from the UK in 2023, with Virgin Atlantic set to fly one of its Boeing 787 aircraft from London to New York using solely Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

Virgin Atlantic will work with a consortium including Rolls-Royce, Boeing, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Imperial College London, University of Sheffield, RMI, and ICF. When fully replacing kerosene, SAF can slash lifecycle carbon emissions by more than 70%, compared to conventional fossil jet fuel.

Virgin Atlantic’s flight is expected to be fueled by SAF made primarily from waste oils and fats, such as used cooking oil.

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO, added: “As an airline founded on and committed to innovation, we’re proud to lead a cross-industry consortium of partners to make aviation history by operating the first ever 100% SAF flight across the Atlantic. Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight in 1984 was to New York and today it continues to be one of our most popular routes. It will be an honor to pave the way for this important business and leisure route to become even more sustainable.

“This challenge recognizes the critical role that SAF has to play in decarbonizing aviation and the urgent collective action needed to scale production and use of SAF globally. The research and results will be a huge step in fast tracking SAF use across the aviation industry and support the investment, collaboration and urgency needed to produce SAF at scale. Our collective ambition of Net Zero by 2050 depends on it.”

Aviation is one of the hardest sectors to decarbonize, and without urgent, collaborative action it could be one of the highest emitting sectors for greenhouse gases by 2050. Virgin Atlantic has long been committed to transitioning to a more sustainable future. In 2018, Virgin Atlantic flew the first-ever commercial flight using LanzaTech’s sustainable jet fuel.