Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
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Sustainable Flight Fund: United's Green Aviation Initiatives


Sustainable Flight Fund: United's Green Aviation Initiatives
The United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund has expanded its investment capacity to nearly $200 million and welcomed eight new corporate partners, marking this development just five months after its initial launch. Among the new partners are American Express Global Business Travel, Aramco Ventures, Aviation Capital Group, Bank of America, Boston Consulting Group, Groupe ADP, Hawaiian Airlines, and JetBlue Ventures. These additions complement the original fund partners, including Air Canada, Boeing, GE Aerospace, JPMorgan Chase, and Honeywell.
In an innovative approach, United Airlines customers now have the option to contribute to the UAV Sustainable Flight FundSM when booking flights, further enhancing the airline's investment in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). This initiative has garnered substantial support, with over 60,000 United customers contributing a combined total exceeding $200,000.
SAF, a greener alternative to traditional jet fuel, demonstrates reduced greenhouse gas emissions over the lifecycle of air travel. United has taken a pioneering stance in this regard, investing in the future production of over five billion gallons of SAF - an industry-leading accomplishment.
United Airlines Ventures President Michael Leskinen emphasized that while complete decarbonization of the airline industry requires collective effort, United can leverage its leadership and reputation to encourage others to partake in this endeavor. The united front presented by new and initial participants reflects the commitment to combating climate change. The UAV Sustainable Flight Fund is distinctive in its approach, focusing on collaborative efforts to scale the SAF sector and obtain equity stakes in innovative technologies.
Continuing forward, United aims to attract more corporations from various sectors to join the fund. The focus will remain on investing in groundbreaking technologies, advanced fuel sources, and established producers to bolster SAF supply. Partners could also gain advantageous access to environmental attributes linked to United's forthcoming SAF supply.
The current SAF formulation requires blending with conventional jet fuel to meet regulatory standards for aircraft usage. Derived from sources like used cooking oil and agricultural waste, with potential expansion to household trash or forest waste, SAF offers promising alternatives. Through the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund, United's intentions encompass investment in a diverse array of SAF feedstocks and technologies, potentially fostering a sustainable flight future with the right policy incentives.
The UAV Sustainable Flight FundSM was initiated with an initial investment surpassing $100 million, contributed by United and its founding partners: Air Canada, Boeing, GE Aerospace, JPMorgan Chase, and Honeywell. Through this fund, not only will these partners participate in SAF technology and production startup investments identified by United, but additional corporate participants will also join in. Over the last couple of years, United Airlines Ventures has made investments in various companies utilizing diverse ingredients and technologies to create SAF. These include feedstocks like ethanol, animal byproducts, forestry and crop waste, and municipal waste. Additionally, United has invested in emerging technologies like synthetic biology and power-to-liquids, which integrate renewable power, hydrogen, and carbon capture processes. To construct the fund's portfolio, certain existing SAF investments by United Airlines Ventures have been transferred to the UAV Sustainable Flight FundSM.
In a bid to raise consumer awareness and encourage action, United provides an opportunity for travelers booking flights within or from the U.S. to contribute to the UAV Sustainable Flight FundSM before completing their booking. Travelers can choose to donate $1, $3.50, or $7.00. Since its inception, more than 60,000 United customers have collectively contributed over $200,000. The default contribution option is set at $3.50, illustrating the potential collective impact. If each of the 152 million individuals who flew with United in 2022 contributed $3.50, it would be sufficient to design and construct a SAF refinery capable of producing around 40 million gallons of alternative fuel annually.
United's commitment extends to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 without relying on traditional carbon offsets. In tandem with the UAV Sustainable Flight FundSM, United launched the Eco-Skies Alliance, a program for purchasing SAF, and established United Airlines Ventures to identify and invest in companies and technologies that can decarbonize air travel.

This includes ventures related to carbon capture, hydrogen-electric engines, electric regional aircraft, and air taxis. In a significant milestone, United's 2035 near-term emissions reduction target received validation from the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) in May 2023. This target aims to reduce carbon intensity by 50% from a 2019 baseline. Furthermore, United has set an industry precedent by displaying estimated carbon footprints for each flight during the booking process.