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Finnair and Biofuel

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Earlier in the week Finnair AY5 landed in New York’s JFK airport carrying its passengers like the other hundreds of planes to pass through the airport. Unlike the rest of those planes, Finnair’s AY5 was a little different than the rest of those other flights, because it was fueled by biofuel. Biofuel is made up of fat and grease and performs in a plane just as jet fuel would. The pilots and passengers hadn’t noticed a difference in performance.

finnair 1Biofuel

Biofuel for an airplane has the ability to change the industry just like hybrid and electric power has the ability to change how we commute on a daily basis. It wasn’t a mistake that the Finnair had sent a biofueled plane to JFK this week. The company had made both an environment and political message when the plane arrived on the same day that the United Nations Summit on Climate change was about to take place. The Vice President of Sustainable Development for Finnair, Kati Ihamaki, has said “We wanted to send a message to the UN and show that biofuel is a serious and credible alternative that can concretely reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” ¬†The biofuel is primarily made of up the recycled cooking oil that comes from restaurants which has proven to help reduce the carbon footprint that is traditionally left by big commercial jet liners. “Technology means, including biofuel but also new fleet investments, are the most effective means to improve fuel efficiency…and therefore reduce emissions.” said Ihamaki.


The biggest cost of operations for Finnair comes from the cost of fuel. By taking jet fuel off the operating costs the company not save money on their bottom line but is also able to pass those savings onto their customers while helping to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases which add to the overall warming of the planet. For customers, the savings and environmental savings have been noticed already as the company has been able to upgrade its tableware by introducing Marimekko tableware which is 15 percent light than previous version offered on their flights. The company has shown a massive commitment towards reducing not only its engine emissions but also the amount of waste produced by each flight and the impact it has on landfills. The airline has been able to recycle, reuse, or limit the amount of waste in every flight that they are sending out. The company has been training their pilots to conserve fuel when both taking off and landing their aircraft. The pilots for Finnair when descending use an industry coined term, the “continuous descent landing method” when landing the plane which helps to conserve fuel and therefore helping maintain the bottom line to the company’s spending on every flight. The company itself has been committed towards shifting the airliner to be one of the most environmentally friendly and cost effective airlines in the world, one that can become the beacon of examples for the rest of the industry to follow and model after.finnair 2

While biofuel helps to reduce the greenhouse gasses which have polluting the planet over the years, it also helps the company to be able to use a fuel that is both sustainable and affordable to use as well. Right now biofuel is not the cheapest fuel that an airliner would be thinking about putting in their fuel tanks to power their aircraft. In an industry which has caused some the bigger companies to merge in order to remain in business with the cost of maintenance, fuel, and high international tension spiking here and there, the industry’s airliners have been making cuts left and right. In fact right now the cost of biofuel that is being put into planes cost roughly twice as much as regular jet fuel. Spokesmen for the company have been quoted in saying that even though right now the cost of biofuel is high, it won’t always be. In a strange twist of luck, we are beginning to see corporate responsibly to the environment and to the customer base take a preference over just making any additional profit. “…flights like this will help develop and stimulate supply chains.” said Ihamaki. While the alternative-ness of this fuel might prove to be industry changing, right now it is not the most affordable fuel to be powering aircraft with. But Finnair has seemingly challenged conventional business theories by putting the environment first in this matter of operation.

Sometimes the best way to change an industry is to pioneer the change you want to see, yourself. If history has taught us anything about leadership, it is that when the tough decision needs to be made and implemented, the best way to rally the troops is t have them follow you into battle rather than give orders far behind the front line. The same thinking in that leadership has been seen by those who run Finnair and are looking for a change in the way their industry fuels commercial jet liners.


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