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Southwest Airlines Acquires SAFFiRE Renewables and Strengthens Focus on Sustainability

By Southwest Airlines

DALLAS — Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) announces the acquisition of SAFFiRE Renewables, LLC (SAFFiRE) as part of the investment portfolio of its wholly owned subsidiary Southwest Airlines Renewable Ventures, LLC (SARV). SARV is dedicated to creating more opportunities for Southwest® to obtain scalable sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).


SAFFiRE is part of a project supported by the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop and produce scalable renewable ethanol that can be upgraded into SAF. SAFFiRE expects to utilize technology developed at the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to convert corn stover, a widely available agricultural residue feedstock in the U.S., into renewable ethanol.


“This acquisition marks Southwest’s transition from investor to sole owner of SAFFiRE, expressing our confidence in SAFFiRE’s technology and its potential to advance our sustainability goals as well as the goals of the broader industry,” said Bob Jordan, President & CEO of Southwest Airlines. “Championing SAF is a key pillar of Southwest’s Nonstop to Net Zero plan and our work toward a more sustainable future for air travel. We look forward to continuing our journey with SAFFiRE as part of our efforts to propel this promising technology forward.”


Southwest first invested in SAFFiRE during phase one of the pilot project in 2022. With this acquisition, SAFFiRE is expected to proceed with phase two of the project by developing a pilot plant hosted at Conestoga’s Arkalon Energy ethanol facility in Liberal, Kansas. Initially, this plant is intended to utilize SAFFiRE’s exclusive technology license from NREL to process 10 tons of corn stover per day for the production of renewable ethanol. Then, the plan is for the ethanol to be converted into SAF by LanzaJet, Inc. (LanzaJet).


"Renewable ethanol is an important feedstock to realizing high-volume, affordable SAF, which is a critical part of the journey to net zero carbon emissions,” said Tom Nealon, President of SARV and CEO of SAFFiRE. “We are enthusiastic about the ethanol-to-SAF pathway and SAFFiRE’s potential ability to produce renewable ethanol at a scale that is economically viable.”

The acquisition of SAFFiRE comes shortly after Southwest announced an investment in LanzaJet, a SAF technology provider and producer with a patented ethanol-to-SAF technology and the world’s first ethanol-to-SAF commercial plant.


For more on Southwest’s Nonstop to Net Zero plan outlining the carrier’s path toward net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and a more sustainable future through carbon, circularity1, and collaboration, visit southwest.com/planet.


CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Specific forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements related to (i) the Company’s plans associated with the management of SAFFiRE; (ii) the goals and focus areas of Southwest Airlines Renewable Ventures LLC and SAFFiRE Renewables LLC; (iii) Southwest's and SAFFiRE’s expectations regarding SAFFiRE technology; (iv) Southwest's environmental sustainability plans, expectations, goals, and projections; (v) Southwest’s and SAFFiRE’s plans and expectations associated with the development and utilization of a pilot plant, as well as expectations with respect to the capabilities of the expected plant; (vi) Southwest’s and SAFFiRE’s expectations with respect to technology license usage; (vii) Southwest’s and SAFFiRE’s plans and expectations associated with the conversion of ethanol into SAF; and (viii) the plans, goals, and expectations of SARV, SAFFIRE, and Southwest associated with the available volume of SAF and the affordability of SAF. Forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties, assumptions, and other factors that are difficult to predict and that could cause actual results to vary materially from those expressed in or indicated by them. Factors include, among others, (i) any negative developments in any phase of SAFFiRE's business development from current concept to commercialization, including limitations on the availability of feedstock, transportation, and refinery availability; (ii) any negative developments in any phase of LanzaJet's business development; (iii) the continuation of government support for SAFFiRE's and LanzaJet's objectives and renewable fuels generally, including SAF; (iv) the Company's dependence on third parties, in particular with respect to fuel supply, technology licensing, environmental sustainability, and the production, transport, storage, blending, and distribution of SAF, and the impact on the Company's goals and plans of any third party delays or non-performance; (v) the Company's ability to timely and effectively prioritize its focus areas and initiatives and related expenditures, including its ability to implement and maintain the necessary processes to support the utilization of sustainable aviation fuel; (vi) the consequences of competition with other existing and new sources of aviation fuel, whether or not sustainable; (vii) the ability to obtain and protect intellectual property rights relating to the development and commercialization of technology, including with respect to converting corn stover to renewable ethanol and converting ethanol to SAF; (viii) the impact of governmental regulations and other governmental actions on the Company's business plans and operations, including with respect to carbon emissions, SAF, SAF tax credits, environmental compliance requirements, and other sustainability matters; (ix) the impact of fears or actual outbreaks of diseases, extreme or severe weather and natural disasters, actions of competitors, consumer perception, economic conditions, fuel prices, socio-demographic trends, and other factors beyond the Company's control, on the Company's business plans, expectations, and goals; and (x) other factors, as described in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the detailed factors discussed under the heading "Risk Factors" in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023. Caution should be taken not to place undue reliance on the Company's forward-looking statements, which represent the Company's views only as of the date this release. The Company undertakes no obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.


ABOUT SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.     Southwest Airlines Co. operates one of the world’s most admired and awarded airlines, offering its one-of-a-kind value and Hospitality at 121 airports across 11 countries. Southwest took flight in 1971 to democratize the sky through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel and now carries more air travelers flying nonstop within the United States than any other airline2. Based in Dallas and famous for an Employee-first corporate Culture, Southwest maintains an unprecedented record of no involuntary furloughs or layoffs in its history. By empowering its nearly 75,0003  People to deliver unparalleled Hospitality, the maverick airline cherishes a passionate loyalty among more than 137 million Customers carried in 2023. That formula for success brought industry-leading prosperity and 47 consecutive years4 of profitability for Southwest Shareholders (NYSE: LUV). Southwest leverages a unique legacy and mission to serve communities around the world including harnessing the power of its People and Purpose to put communities at the Heart of its success. Learn more by visiting Southwest.com/citizenship. As the airline with Heart, Southwest has set a goal to work toward achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Southwest has also set near-term targets and a three-pillar strategy to achieve its environmental goals. Learn more by visiting Southwest.com/planet.  

 

  1. Circularity at Southwest means working toward reducing waste through maximizing the value of resources by keeping products and materials in circulation as long as possible. This can be through reusing, recycling, and considering what happens to a product at the end of its lifecycle from the time that sourcing begins.  

  2. Based on U.S. Dept. of Transportation quarterly Airline Origin & Destination Survey since Q1 2021  

  3. Fulltime-equivalent active Employees      

  4. 1973-2019 annual profitability         

Media Contacts:   Visit the Southwest Newsroom at swamedia.com for multimedia assets and other Company news. 


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