What it was Like to Fly on the World’s Longest Sustainable Flight

Hailed a major milestone in making travel more eco-conscious, the world’s first long-haul sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) flight took to the skies last month after a year of prep work. Here at Flight Centre, we could not be more excited!

Chris Galanty VS100

1.5min read

Published 12 December 2023

Flight Centre Author

By

Alexandra Cronin (Gregg)

UK Content & Social Lead


Share


Hailed a major milestone in making travel more eco-conscious, the world’s first long-haul sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) flight took to the skies last month after a year of prep work. Here at Flight Centre, we could not be more excited!


We’re always looking for ways to make our travel experiences more environmentally friendly and, with a little help from our pals at Virgin Atlantic, that goal feels ever-closer.

We caught up with Flight Centre Travel Group’s Corporate CEO, Chris Galanty, who was fortunate enough to be onboard this historic VS100 flight.

So Chris, how did it feel to be part of the first transatlantic SAF flight?

I was super excited and very proud to be on the first ever-long haul SAF flight, flying on the VS100 between London Heathrow and JFK (New York). This was a really important, exciting event for the industry and I was so proud to be representing Flight Centre.

Did you have any worries before the flight?

I was certainly never apprehensive about the flight at all. It was a one-off special flight; it had to be approved by both the FAA in the US and the CAA in the UK, so both regulatory bodies. It had the engineers from Rolls-Royce who supplied the engines, the people from Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow Airport, and everyone came together to make sure that it was very safe.

VS100 flight Chris Galanty
VS100 flight Chris Galanty
VS100 flight Chris Galanty

What was it like onboard?

This was a very special flight, they only had 90 passengers onboard – only people who had been authorised by the FAA and the CAA to travel. We had Sir Richard Branson, obviously the founder of Virgin Atlantic, Shai Weiss the CEO of the airline, government ministers, people from Rolls-Royce, from Boeing, from the airport authority, and only two travel industry experts – myself and a competitor. There were journalists, lots of social media influencers, lots of CSOs and sustainability experts as well, people who had created the sustainable aviation fuel… basically anyone who’s an interested party in aviation sustainability.

What did you learn about sustainable aviation fuel?

We spend a lot of time talking about SAF with our corporate customers, but I did learn some new things onboard the flight talking to some of the engineers and scientists who’d been behind the project.

What we proved on this flight is that it’s possible, the engineering is there. To understand it, SAF is basically not using petrol chemicals to make jet fuel, and the great achievement here is the same engine, a normal engine, was used. There’s no mechanical innovation or changes whatsoever, jet fuel is simply drained out of the engine after a previous flight and the SAF 100% was put into the engine. On the way back it was normal jet fuel used again.

It was a milestone to prove it was possible.

London Heathrow Airport

United Kingdom

quote position image

Expert tip

Over time we will all be flying on flights powered by more sustainable aviation fuels, and that’s a really exciting thing for us all to look forward to.

Chris Galanty

Corporate CEO, Flight Centre Travel Group

,,

What does the future of SAF look like?

The real challenges now around SAF is producing enough fuel to power the entire aviation industry, which is the ambition of the industry in the coming years and decades.

The way we produce SAF today means it’s probably not scalable, but it’s provable, and the engineering and the science is improving and we’re getting more confident that it will lead to innovations. Some people are talking about harvesting vast amounts of seaweed to produce SAF, there’s lots of ideas out there, there’s more money pouring into the whole concept of SAF, and I believe what we’ll see here is what we’ve seen in other areas of sustainable energy production: with innovation, with interested parties investing, we’ll see more and more SAF hitting the market and lots of innovation in the coming years.

VS100 plane wing
VS100 plane wing
VS100 plane wing

Would you fly on a SAF flight again?

Absolutely, I think we all will be, and many of us do today because lots of flights do have a small proportion of SAF being used already – I know some of our corporate customers in particular contribute to that.

Over time we will all be flying on flights powered by more SAF, and that’s a really exciting thing for us all to look forward to.

Flight Centre Author

By

Alexandra Cronin (Gregg)

UK Content & Social Lead


Share


...loading
Flight Centre

© Flight Centre (UK) Limited, Registered in England No. 02937210.

* 0800 calls are free for landlines and mobiles. 0333 calls are included within inclusive minutes package on mobiles, otherwise standard rates apply. 0844/0845 calls are 7p/pm plus your local carrier charge. Prices are per person twin share, correct as at the date of publication, subject to change and may be higher/unavailable for certain dates. Airfares are economy on specified airlines from London, unless otherwise stated. For full booking conditions visit Booking Conditions. Some of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. We will provide you with information on the protection that applies in the case of each holiday and travel service offered before you make your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but not all the parts of your trip are listed on it, those parts not listed will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.caa.co.uk.