The Cost For Good Seats on Southwest Hawaii Soars

Southwest’s SAFFiRE Deal Propels Sustainable Hawaii Travel

As Hawaii flights move towards being more sustainable, Southwest Airlines has acquired SAFFiRE Renewables.

This takes Southwest from being a prior investor to the new owner of SAFFire.

It’s also a vote of confidence in this latest technology. Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said that actively supporting the development and adoption of SAF is a cornerstone of Southwest’s “Nonstop to Net Zero” plans. Given Southwest’s sheer size, we have no doubt that this move will impact the airline industry and flights to Hawaii.

In 2022, we reported that Southwest Airlines had invested in SAFFiRE. Now that they own the company, the next steps will include the development of an ethanol plant to be located in Kansas. It will be able to process 10 tons of corn stover daily. The ethanol will become SAF in collaboration with LanzaJet technology.

SAFFiRE plans to scale up renewable ethanol production, a next step in generating SAF. What is reportedly a groundbreaking technology emanating from the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is at the core of Southwest’s plans. This is specifically designed to transform corn stover, the stalks, leaves, and husks left over from corn harvests, into ethanol. Those are widely available agricultural byproducts in the US.

Ex-Southwest President Tom Nealon is the CEO of SAFFiRE.

You may recall that Nealon was in line to be CEO of Southwest when we first met him as Southwest Hawaii flights started five years ago. Then it was reported he’d been passed over for the top spot to replace then CEO Gary Kelly. Nealon then abruptly retired from Southwest.

In this unlikely turn of events, however, Nealon is again returning to Southwest, in a new capacity. Does the airline industry seem as small to you as it does to us?

Timely Hawaiian Airlines Sale As Merger + Aircraft Challenges Escalate

Hawaiian and Alaska each had big SAF announcements last year.

It was March 2023 when these Hawaii-focused airlines each announced SAF agreements on the same day. We pondered then whether that was a coincidence. Hmm.

Alaska Airlines Hawaii News

Alaska has an agreement with Shell Aviation for its sustainable aviation fuel. The airline aims to be a net zero company by 2040, with SAF being a short-term way to proceed towards that goal. “That’s why we’ve pioneered SAF technologies for more than a decade,” said Alaska.

On the other hand, Hawaiian Airlines is in a SAF deal with Gevo, a biofuel company. Hawaiian planned to purchase 50 million gallons of SAF over five years, which is now subject to their planned merger with Alaska.

Hawaiian said their agreement gets them “one step closer to achieving our goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.” Hawaiian has also partnered with Par Hawaii, Hawaii’s largest energy product provider, to study producing SAF in Hawaii.

Please share your ideas about SAF on Hawaii flights.

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