United Airline’s sustainable flight fund grows to nearly $200 million, adds strategic partners

The United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund – a way for companies and consumers to come together and increase the supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) through the support of start-ups – has increased its investment power to nearly $200 million and added eight new corporate partners, five months after its initial launch.

American Express Global Business Travel, Aramco Ventures, Aviation Capital Group, Bank of America, Boston Consulting Group, Groupe ADP, Hawaiian Airlines, and JetBlue Ventures, will join inaugural fund partners Air Canada, Boeing, GE Aerospace, JPMorgan Chase, and Honeywell.

United customers also have the option to contribute to supplement the airline’s investment in the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund when they book flights.

Since the fund launched, more than 60,000 United customers have contributed a total of more than $200,000.

SAF is an alternative to conventional jet fuel that, on a lifecycle basis, reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with air travel compared to conventional jet fuel alone.

To date, United has invested in the future production of over five billion gallons of SAF – the most of any airline in the world.1

“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,” said United Airlines Ventures President Michael Leskinen.

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“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.

As companies across the globe are increasingly looking for ways to reduce their environmental impact from flying, the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund presents a unique opportunity – instead of fighting over the current limited supply of SAF, with our partners, we’re working collaboratively to help scale the SAF industry itself, and to get an equity stake in groundbreaking technology while doing it.”

United will continue to recruit corporations across industries to join the fund and will prioritize investment in new technology, advanced fuel sources, and proven producers – all in an effort to help scale the supply of SAF.

Partners also have the potential to gain preferential access to environmental attributes associated with United’s future supply of SAF.

SAF, which currently 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, and, in the future, could be made from other feed-stocks including household trash or forest waste.

Through the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund, United intends to invest in a variety of SAF feed-stocks and technologies. With the right policy incentives to produce SAF, United’s efforts could help build a future of sustainable flight.

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The UAV Sustainable Flight Fund launched with more than $100 million in investments from United and its inaugural partners Air Canada, Boeing, GE Aerospace, JPMorgan Chase, and Honeywell.

Through the fund, these partners and additional corporate participants will invest alongside United in SAF technology and production start-ups identified by United.

In the past two years alone, United Airlines Ventures has already made investments in or signed purchase agreements with companies using a variety of ingredients and technologies to produce SAF, including feed-stocks like ethanol, animal byproducts, forestry, and crop waste as well as early-stage, promising technologies like synthetic biology and power to liquids incorporating renewable power, hydrogen and carbon capture processes.

United Airlines Ventures has moved selected existing SAF investments into the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund to establish the fund’s portfolio.

As part of the fund launch, consumers booking through United for travel within or from the U.S. have the 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 $7.00. Since the launch, more than 60,000 United customers have contributed a total of more than $200,000.

The default option for customer contributions is set at $3.50 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.2

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

In addition to the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund, 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.

In May 2023, United received validation of our 2035 near-term emissions reduction target from the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) to reduce our carbon intensity by 50% from a 2019 base year.

United Airlines aircraft

This year, United became the first U.S. airline to show customers an estimate of each flight’s carbon footprint in their search.

Wole Shadare