United today announced that it will begin using a blend of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) on departing flights from San Francisco International Airport and is planning 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.”
To date, United has invested in the future production of over five billion gallons of SAF – more than any airline3 – and as a result of today’s announcement, the carrier will fly more miles in 2023 than any airline.4 United 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 in 2023.
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 Airport. 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.
Eco-Skies Alliance Round 3
The SAF used on United’s flights will be paid for in part through the company’s Eco-Skies AllianceSM, 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.
United’s 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, this is enough SAF to reduce approximately 150,000 metric tons of GHG emissions, or enough to fly passengers close to 1 billion miles. Including today’s newly announced participants, the program has 24 participants including:
The new participants include:
Bank of America
Corporate Travel Management
First Eagle Investments
Thermo Fisher Scientific
The SAF that United is using today in San Francisco and Amsterdam is provided by Neste. 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. Using Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80%5 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. To date, United has invested in the future production of over 5 billion gallons of SAF – more than any airline.6
The Federal Government Recognizes the Value of SAF
The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act includes the largest governmental climate change investments in U.S. history – a new blender’s tax credit specifically for SAF along with other critical incentives for clean energy and carbon capture – that will help spur an increase in SAF infrastructure and supply while lowering costs for SAF consumers.
The U.S. military currently uses nearly five billion gallons of jet fuel annually and the Department of Defense will use a jet fuel blend containing at least 10% SAF by 2028 because of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.
And according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the country’s vast feedstock resources are enough to meet the projected SAF demand of the entire U.S. aviation industry.
United’s Commitment to Net Zero Emissions by 2050
United was the first airline to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, without relying on traditional carbon offsets. 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 FundSM. These strategic investments include carbon capture, hydrogen-electric engines, electric regional aircraft and air taxis. This year, United became the first U.S. airline to show customers an estimate of each flight’s carbon footprint in their search.