This month, some Alaska Airlines flights will be flying on used cooking oil as they travel from Seattle to Portland and Washington D.C.
Flights taking off this month, 75 in all, will use a 20 percent biofuel blend. The company reports the fuel was hard to find, and it cost nearly six times as much as regular jet fuel.
Keith Loveless is the vice president of corporate affairs for the airline. He says the purpose of running some flights on biofuel is to call attention to the larger need for more aviation biofuel.
"The reason we're doing it is simply to communicate to the supply chain and government that if we can get an affordable supply of biofuel, we'll use it. We'll buy it. It's not all that esoteric from an operational perspective. We can make it happen. It's just really a question of an affordable supply," Loveless said.
He says the extra cost of this month’s flights will not be passed onto customers.
Loveless said biofuel burns cleaner than petroleum and offers airlines insurance against volatile oil prices. A recent industry study concluded the Pacific Northwest has the feedstock, infrastructure and political will to launch an aviation biofuel industry. But Alaska Airlines had to get its biofuel from Alabama through a broker in the Netherlands.