Thomson carries out UK's first commerical biofuel flight

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Thomson Airways on 6 October carried out the UK's first commercial biofuel flight after being forced to postpone the original flight, which had been scheduled for 28 July.

The service from Birmingham Airport carried 232 passengers on a Boeing 757-200 to Arrecife in Lanzarote. Thomson said the flight operated on a 50/50 blend of hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids biofuel made from used cooking oil and traditional jet fuel in one engine.

The leisure carrier said it will commence daily biofuel operations on the route in early 2012 for a period of approximately six weeks.

Environmental organisation Biofuelwatch has criticised the flight, describing it as "self-seeking and irresponsible greenwash". The group alleged that Thomson would use virgin plant oils from camelina and babassu nuts, which it said are in "very short supply. It added that the carrier was forced to do so because it was unable to source enough used cooking oil.

However, Thomson has denied this claim: "The biofuel purchased by Thomson Airways is sourced entirely from used cooking oil. No animal tallow, camelina or babassu was used." It said that the July flight was postponed due to unforeseen delivery delays which it said meant that it was unable to conduct its stringent testing process in time.