8 airlines sign deal to use synthetic diesel

Eight U.S. airlines will use up to 1.5 million gallons a year of synthetic diesel made from plant waste starting in 2012, the fuel's manufacturer announced today.

Rentech Inc.'s fuel will be used for ground-service transportation at Los Angeles International Airport and be made primarily from urban woody green waste such as yard clippings, the company said.

Using the renewable fuel will be American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, US Airways, Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and UPS Airlines.

Rentech plans to produce the fuel at a new plant in Rialto, Calif., which is slated to open in 2012.

The Air Transport Association of America, the domestic industry trade group that joined Rentech in announcing the deal, called the purchasing agreement the first of its kind and said it could signal an industrywide move toward using lower-carbon fuels.

"This transaction promises to be the first of many such green-fuel purchase agreements by the commercial aviation industry," said Glenn Tilton, ATA's chairman.

Likewise, Rentech heralded the agreement as a sign of things to come.

"We expect this agreement to serve as a model for future supply relationships at other airports and for other fuels, including Rentech's synthetic jet fuel, which was recently approved for commercial airline use," said D. Hunt Ramsbottom, Rentech's president and CEO.

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