easyJet, Rolls-Royce and Airbus call on UK to fund hydrogen-powered flying

posted on 6th September 2023 by William Hallowell
Hydrogen-powered flights - airbus

easyJet, Rolls-Royce and Airbus have joined forces to try to position Britain at the forefront of hydrogen-powered flying as the aviation industry looks increasingly to decarbonise by 2050.

The three companies, along with  Ørsted, GKN Aerospace and Bristol Airport, have established a new group in a bid to help accelerate the delivery of a more sustainable way of flying.

The Hydrogen in Aviation (HIA) alliance will work to ensure the UK capitalises on the opportunity hydrogen presents to the industry.

It aims to assist the government – and policymakers – by mapping out the milestones to ensure infrastructure, regulatory and policy changes keep pace with the ground-breaking technological developments in hydrogen-powered flying.

It is “critical that the supply of hydrogen, and the infrastructure needed to support zero carbon flying, are prioritised”, said the new group.

With the alliance’s launch on Tuesday, the companies highlighted that new research by 3gem – published in August – shows that 81 per cent of the British public believe hydrogen is the best option to decarbonise aviation, with 91 per cent supporting the UK government investing in hydrogen production and use in the aviation sector.

The formation of HIA comes after the UK government affirmed its commitment this week to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as a way of decarbonising the aviation sector and making it more sustainable with the industry’s green goals in mind.

Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, has been appointed as the first chair of the group and calls for the industry to work together.

He said: “There is no doubt that the UK has the potential to become a world leader in hydrogen aviation, which could bring with it a £34b per annum boost to the country’s economy by 2050, but in order to capture this opportunity, rapid change is needed and the time to act is now.

“We must work together to deliver the radical solutions required for a hard to abate industry like aviation so we can protect and maximise the benefits that it brings to the UK economy and society and that we know British consumers want to be preserved.

“HIA looks forward to working with the UK government to ensure the right funding, regulatory and policy changes are implemented to accelerate the delivery of zero carbon aviation.”

Grazia Vittadinin, chief technology at Rolls-Royce, added that green hydrogen “is one of the solutions that will help decarbonise aviation in the mid to long-term”.

Image credit: Airbus