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Sustainable vodka company sells jet fuel

Sep 22, 2022
Illustration of a gas can with a dollar sign etched on the side.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Four buyers signed agreements to purchase sustainable airline fuel from Air Company, the carbon capture startup previously best known for making sustainable vodka, the company tells Axios.

Why it matters: Many major aviation companies have dabbled in SAF purchase agreements as upstarts work to iron out the technical aspects of creating an economically viable green aviation fuel.

Driving the news: JetBlue, Virgin Atlantic, Boom Supersonic and the U.S. Air Force have committed to purchasing Air Company's SAF.

  • Virgin Atlantic agreed to purchase 100 million gallons over 10 years at an undisclosed price.
  • The U.S. Air Force purchased five gallons of SAF in addition to committing to a $1 million contract and completing a test flight using the fuel.
  • Boom Supersonic agreed to purchase 5 million gallons at an undisclosed price as part of its inaugural Overture flight. The net-zero flight will carry up to 80 passengers.
  • JetBlue agreed to purchase up to 25 million gallons of SAF over five years at an undisclosed price.

Of note: JetBlue Ventures, the venture arm of the airline company, invested in Air Company's $30 million Series A in April.

State of play: The deals allows Air Company to expand on its more ambitious projects while also allowing major aviation groups to test integrating SAF into their fleets in the long-term.

  • Air Company's SAF is not close to cost parity with traditional jet fuel, Air Company CEO Gregory Constantine tells Axios. Part of the commitments include working through ways to lower costs overall, he says.
  • Part of the cost reduction will come as Air Company's production facility nears completion thanks to SAF-specific incentives included in the IRA, Constantine says.

What they did: "Unlike our predecessors and peers that scaled so rapidly they failed, we decided to focus on monetizing the research and development while we work on the technology and everything else," Constantine said of his company's roots in producing alcohol prior to SAF.

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