United Airlines wants its customers to buy sustainable aviation fuel while flying. It is also asking its big corporate clients to pitch it. The US carrier hopes to lead the aviation industry’s switch over to sustainable aviation fuel with this new program called the “Eco-Skies Alliance”.
Understandably, airlines’ number one priority is currently on guests’ health and safety in the context of the current situation. However, that doesn’t mean that sustainability and environmental impact have slid to the bottom of the pile. Instead, such areas remain a top priority for most if not all airlines across the globe.
United’s new sustainability focus
United Airlines will take steps to increase its sustainability further moving forwards. According to the airline, it hopes to become the industry leader towards a more sustainable future. Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) will be the backbone of this plan.
According to United, it has signed partnerships with many of its biggest corporate clients who will now contribute towards the cost of SAFs. Big names included in the deal include Deloitte, HP Inc., Nike, and Siemens. The airline will work with these companies and others to purchase around 3.4 million gallons of SAFs this year alone. Today’s announcement is an invitation to other companies to get involved.
The SAFs being employed by airlines reduce emissions by around 80% over its lifecycle compared to traditional kerosene-based blends. With this year’s SAF purchase, United believes that it will eliminate approximately 31,000 metric tonnes of emissions, equating to a passenger flying over 220 million miles. In other words, around the equator almost 9,000 times.
Individual passengers also targetted
However, United realizes that corporations alone aren’t solely responsible for CO2 emissions. As a result, the airline is also giving individual customers the ability to contribute to its decarbonization funds. This, it says, makes it the first United States airline to do so. The airline will collate all donations across the year before adding them up. They will then go towards SAFs and SAF development.
Increasing demand for SAFs
Sustainable Aviation Fuels are currently stuck in a vicious cycle. Due to the low demand for them, they are produced in small quantities at a high cost. This, in turn, makes them less attractive to airlines as they aren’t economically feasible. As such, airlines don’t buy more fuel, so the cost remains high.
Gradually, airlines are working on trying to break this chain. British Airways, for example, is investing in the creation of new SAF production facilities. Meanwhile, the Lufthansa Group has asked customers to consider contributing to their cost. United Airlines also hopes to help break the chain through this new program, creating more demand for fuels.
Commenting on the initiative, the airline’s CEO, Scott Kirby, commented,
“We applaud those participating in the Eco-Skies Alliance for recognizing the need to go beyond carbon offsets and support SAF-powered flying, which will lead to more affordable supply and ultimately, lower emissions.”
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