United Airlines Rallies Businesses and Travelers to Support Sustainable Aviation Fund


United Airlines Rallies Businesses and Travelers to Support Sustainable Aviation Fund

One of the world’s largest airlines encourages businesses and travelers to supports start-ups focused on sustainable aviation. 

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United Airlines, the world’s third largest airline, recently launched the ‘United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund’, a first-of-its-kind investment vehicle aimed at supporting start-ups focused on decarbonizing air travel. The fund will accelerate research, production, and technologies linked to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by investing in SAF technology and production start-ups identified by United Airlines.


The Sustainable Flight Fund starts with over $100 million in investments from United Airlines and its launch partners, including Air Canada, Boeing, GE Aerospace, JPMorgan Chase, and Honeywell. Corporations from different industries can also invest in the fund, prioritizing new technology, advanced fuel sources, and proven producers to scale up SAF’s supply.


SAF is an alternative to conventional jet fuel, which reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with air travel on a lifecycle basis. Currently, SAF must be blended with conventional jet fuel to meet regulatory requirements for use with modern airliners. SAF is being made from used cooking oil and agricultural waste, and in the future, it could be produced from other feedstocks such as household trash or forest waste.


United has invested in the future production of over three billion gallons of SAF to date, making it the most extensive investment by any airline in the world.


In a statement from United CEO, Scott Kirby, “This fund is unique. It’s not about offsets or things that are just greenwashing. Instead, we’re creating a system that drives investment to build a new industry around sustainable aviation fuel, essentially from scratch. That’s the only way we can actually decarbonize aviation.”


In a first among U.S. airlines, United has made an effort to raise consumer awareness by giving them the option to supplement United’s investment in the Sustainable Flight Fund. Anyone who buys a ticket on the United website or app can choose to contribute to the fund. 


Furthermore, United has introduced a new feature on its website and app, becoming the first U.S. airline to show customers an estimate of each flight’s carbon footprint. Green shading on United’s website and app will indicate a lower-carbon option on a per economy seat passenger basis in a customer’s chosen itinerary. A flight’s carbon footprint is measured in kg CO2e (kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent), and United’s estimates are based on aircraft type, flying time, seat capacity, and the number of people and cargo on a given flight.


Customers who book travel through United for travel within or from the U.S. can also see an option to contribute to supplement United’s investment in the Sustainable Flight Fund before check-out. Customers have the choice to contribute $1, $3.50, or $7.00.


United has launched a SAF purchasing program called the Eco-Skies Alliance and established a venture fund – United Airlines Ventures – to identify and invest in companies and technologies that can decarbonize air travel. These strategic investments include carbon capture, hydrogen-electric engines, electric regional aircraft, and air taxis.


United aims to be 100% green by reducing its GHG emissions 100% by 2050, without relying on traditional carbon offsets.

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