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DUBAI: Emirates said it successfully flew a Boeing 777 powered by sustainable aviation fuel on Monday, as the Middle East’s largest airline aims to halve its jet fuel consumption.

The Dubai-based carrier has used sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) since 2017, but said its test flight was “the first in the Middle East and North Africa to be powered by 100 percent SAF” in one of the plane’s two engines.

“This flight is a milestone moment,” said Emirate’s chief operating officer Adel Al Redha.

Currently, a maximum of 50 percent SAF blended with kerosene can be used in commercial jet engines. SAFs are made from sustainable biomass, recycled food oils, as well as captured CO2 or green hydrogen converted into synthetic fuels.

“If by 2030, we get 50 percent of the fuel from SAF, it could be quite a very good achievement,” Al Redha told AFP.

“But that will depend on the ability of the companies to produce it and to deliver it… but equally also to bring it at a price that is affordable.”

Monday’s flight took off from Dubai International Airport and flew for more than hour over the city’s coastline, Emirates said.

The SAF that was used in one engine “closely replicates the properties of conventional jet fuel”, Emirates said, noting conventional jet fuel was used to run the second engine.

SAFS may result in reductions of CO2 emissions by as much as 80 percent over their entire cycle of use.

But they currently account for less than 0.1 percent of jet fuel consumed and are two to four times more expensive.

“If it is very expensive that could be an obstacle for airlines or companies to use it,” Al Redha said.

Monday’s demonstration came as the UAE plans to host this year’s UN climate talks in November.

One of the world’s biggest oil producers, the UAE is spending billions to develop enough renewable energy to cover half of its needs by 2050, and is targeting net-zero domestic carbon emissions by that year.

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