Businesses Rally Around Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Through the United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund, aviation and industry leaders are coming together to support the supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The fund, launched earlier this year, welcomed eight new partners this week — American Express Global Business Travel, Aramco Ventures, Aviation Capital Group, Bank of America, Boston Consulting Group, Groupe ADP, Hawaiian Airlines, and JetBlue Ventures.

They join the fund’s inaugural partners Air Canada, Boeing, GE Aerospace, JPMorgan Chase, and Honeywell to support start-ups working on SAF research, production, and technology.

United Airlines Ventures President Michael Leskinen, said: “While United can’t decarbonize the airline industry alone, we can use our leadership and credibility in this space to rally others to join us.”

Leskinen continued: “Our new and inaugural participants demonstrate the impressive commitment within aviation and beyond to reduce our carbon footprint and combat the threat of climate change.”

SAF is recognized by experts as the most promising solution to accelerate the aviation sector’s transition to a low-carbon future.

It’s also available for use right now, while other forms of alternative propulsion technologies likely won’t be ready at scale for decades. It can reduce carbon emissions by 80% or more on a lifecycle basis compared to fossil fuel.

Currently SAF, which must be blended with conventional jet fuel to meet regulatory requirements for use within the aircraft, is being made from used cooking oil and agricultural waste. In the future, it could be made from other feedstocks including household trash or forest waste.

Paul Abbott, CEO of American Express Global Business Travel, observed that: “The business travel sector has a critical role to play in scaling SAF and accelerating the decarbonization of travel.”

Abbott observed that: “By investing in the United Ventures fund, we are helping to bring the industry together to drive the innovation and investment required to create a more sustainable future for travel.”

As part of the fund launch, consumers booking through United for travel within or from the U.S. have an option to contribute to supplement United’s investment in the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund before check-out.

Customers have the choice to contribute $1, $3.50 or $7. Since the launch, more than 60,000 United customers have contributed for a total of more than $200,000.

To illustrate the potential impact of customer action at scale, if the 152 million people who flew on United in 2022 each contributed just $3.50 to the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund, that would be enough to design and build a SAF refinery capable of producing as much as 40 million gallons of alternative fuel annually.