(05/05/23) United Airlines has confirmed that it will begin using
a blend of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on departing flights
from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and is planning to use a
SAF blend later this year at London Heathrow Airport (LHR).
The decision 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 Airlines Boeing 767 reg: N676UA at LHR. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com
To date, United has invested in the future production of over five
billion gallons of SAF. The airline has used SAF blends at Los
Angeles International Airport since 2016 and Schiphol Airport in
Amsterdam since 2022 and continues to use SAF at those airports
The SAF deliveries commenced at San Francisco Airport in
April, with United receiving 1.5 million gallons of SAF for
departing flights, the remainder of United’s SAF supply will be
used at Los Angeles International Airport and Amsterdam’s Schiphol
London Heathrow Airport is expected to begin receiving
deliveries of SAF later in 2023. Once the SAF is delivered to
London Heathrow, it will mark the first time United would
participate in London Heathrow’s SAF incentive program.
The SAF used on United’s flights
will be paid for in part through the company’s Eco-Skies
Alliance, an innovative program designed for participating
companies to work together to share the “green premium” or the
cost associated with purchasing lower emission fuels.
Participating in United’s Eco-Skies Alliance provides its
corporate customers with the opportunity to build transparency and
enable true, certified SAF emissions reductions associated with
travel of people or goods on United flights.
Eco-Skies Alliance program was launched in April 2021 and has
collectively contributed 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,
that 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
has 24 participants.
The SAF that United
is using today in San Francisco and Amsterdam is provided by
Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel is produced from
sustainably sourced, 100% renewable waste and residue raw
materials, including used cooking oil and animal fat waste.
Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel reduces greenhouse gas
emissions by up to 80% over the fuel’s life cycle, compared to
using conventional jet fuel.
In the future, SAF could be
made from other feedstocks, including household trash, forest
waste, algae or compressed CO2.
In addition to the Eco-Skies Alliance Program, United also
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. Those strategic investments include
carbon capture, hydrogen-electric engines, electric regional
aircraft and air taxis.