Southwest Airlines launches renewable fuels subsidiary for SAF access

Southwest Airlines launches renewable fuels subsidiary for SAF access

Southwest Airlines Co. has unveiled the formation of Southwest Airlines Renewable Ventures (SARV), a fully owned subsidiary aimed at enhancing Southwest’s access to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

This initiative is pivotal for achieving the airline’s objective of substituting 10% of its jet fuel consumption with SAF by 2030. In a significant move to bolster this ambition, Southwest has also committed USD30 million to LanzaJet, Inc., a leading SAF technology firm. LanzaJet is notable for its unique ethanol-to-SAF technology and for operating the first commercial-scale ethanol-to-SAF production plant globally, now included in SARV’s investment portfolio.

Bob Jordan, president and CEO of Southwest Airlines, emphasized the proactive stance of the company, stating, “With the launch of SARV and our investment in LanzaJet, we are actively participating in securing cost-effective SAF for Southwest. We are committed to our net-zero by 2050 goal and are eager to collaborate with innovators like LanzaJet to achieve our SAF objectives.”

Southwest is set to continue forging SAF offtake agreements with producers, while SARV will manage the airline’s investments related to SAF, including a notable equity stake in SAFFiRE Renewables (SAFFiRE). SAFFiRE, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), holds exclusive rights to a technology that converts corn stover into cellulosic ethanol, a critical step towards producing SAF with LanzaJet’s technology.

LanzaJet, in partnership with Southwest, plans to establish a facility dedicated to converting ethanol into SAF, primarily for Southwest’s use. This facility will enhance the conversion of SAFFiRE’s cellulosic ethanol into SAF, promising an increase in SAF production from SAFFiRE ethanol over time.

“Our aim is to escalate SAF production through strategic investments, ensuring Southwest’s access to high-quality, affordable SAF that meets our stringent standards. Investing in LanzaJet marks a significant step towards commercializing SAFFiRE technology, facilitating the production of cellulosic ethanol convertible to SAF,” said Tom Nealon, president of SARV and CEO of SAFFiRE, outlined SARV’s mission,

Jimmy Samartzis, CEO of LanzaJet, expressed pride in their technology’s role in advancing sustainable aviation fuel. “Our ethanol-to-SAF technology is pivotal for the aviation industry’s net zero ambitions by 2050. We’re proud to collaborate with Southwest Airlines and SAFFiRE Renewables, leveraging U.S.-produced ethanol to drive this transformation, supporting local communities and the agricultural sector.”

This initiative is a cornerstone of Southwest’s Nonstop to Net Zero strategy, aiming for net zero carbon emissions by 2050 through carbon management, circularity, and collaboration. Circularity for Southwest involves minimizing waste by maximizing resource value, keeping products and materials in use for as long as possible through reuse, recycling, and lifecycle consideration from sourcing.