Green energy entrepreneur Dale Vince has announced plans to launch a new airline using planes retrofitted to run on hydrogen-electric power.
The founder of renewable energy supplier Ecotricity, and owner of Forest Green Rovers football club has launched the Ecojet brand, with the aim of offering domestic, European and ultimately long-haul hydrogen-electric flights.
Vince intends to start flights between Edinburgh and Southampton in early 2024, using a fleet of 19 and 70-seater turboprop aircraft, operating under the tagline “Flag carrier for Green Britain”.
Services will however initially be fuelled by conventional jet fuel, in order for the carrier to secure routes and a license from the Civil Aviation Authority.
But the aim is to retrofit the aircraft with hydrogen-electric power trains “as they become approved for service by the CAA”, which Vince hopes will be in 2025.
In a press release Ecojet said that “The decision to repurpose old planes rather than build new models from scratch will save 90,000 tonnes of carbon per year”, adding that “The only byproduct will be water, which can be captured and released into the lower atmosphere to avoid the harmful effects of contrails”.
Vince has partnered with pilot Brent Smith “and a team of aviation specialists” to set up the paper carrier, which will also serve plant-based meals, eliminate single-use plastic and dress its staff in environmentally-friendly uniforms.
“The question of how to create sustainable air travel has plagued the green movement for decades, Ecojet is by far the most significant step towards a solution to date,” said Vince.
“The desire to travel is deeply etched into the human spirit, and flights free of C02 emissions, powered by renewable energy will allow us to explore our incredible world without harming it for the first time.”
Back in 2021 hydrogen-electric aviation solutions firm Zeroavia announced plans for zero emission commercial passenger flights between Rotterdam The Hague airport and London in 2024, although a firm timetable for the launch of these flights has yet to be published.
Urban air mobility provider Volocopter also recently confirmed that its eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) services are on track to launch in time for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
And in June Scandinavian Airlines opened seat reservations for its first commercial electric services, although customers will have to wait another five years for the flights to take off in 2028.
As yet there is no website for the Ecojet brand – Business Traveller will report further on the venture as more information becomes available.