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United Airlines announced that it will begin using a blend of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) on departing flights from San Francisco International Airport. The airline also plans to use a SAF blend later this year at London Heathrow Airport, which could put the airline on track to use approximately 10 million gallons in 2023, nearly three times more than 2022 and close to 10 times more than 2019.
"It's remarkable to see that in just a few years United has exponentially increased its SAF use," said United Chief Sustainability Officer Lauren Riley. "While 10 million gallons of SAF in 2023 represents a fraction of what we need, we have also made big investments in producers that are using everything from ethanol to algae, to CO2, to help increase our available future supply. We believe these investments, along with our continued collaboration with policymakers, cross-industry businesses, and other airlines will help us scale this brand-new industry to achieve comparable success to solar and wind."
United has invested in the future production of over five billion gallons of SAF – more than any airline – and as a result of today's announcement, the carrier will fly more miles in 2023 than any airline. United has used SAF blends at Los Angeles International Airport since 2016 and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam Alliance since 2022 and continues to use SAF at those airports.
The SAF used on United's flights will be paid for in part through the company's Eco-Skies Alliance, a program launched in April 2021 collectively contributing toward the purchase of nearly 15 million gallons of SAF.
With its up to 80% greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions on a lifecycle basis compared to conventional jet fuel, this is enough SAF to reduce approximately 150,000 metric tons of GHG emissions, or enough to fly passengers close to 1 billion miles.
The program currently has 24 participants with the following new added sponsors: Audi, Bank of America, Cisco, Corporate Travel Management, DB Schenker, First Eagle Investments, Macquarie Group, Thermo Fisher Scientific.
In addition to the Eco-Skies Alliance Program, United established a venture fund – United Airlines Ventures – to identify and invest in companies and technologies that can decarbonize air travel and from this, recently created the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund.
United was the first airline to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 without relying on traditional carbon offsets. In addition, in 2023, United became the first U.S. airline to show customers an estimate of each flight's carbon footprint in their search.
Noreen Kompanik is a San Diego based journalist who is also the co-owner and publisher of Rovology, Travel By Vacation Rental...
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