United Airlines Launches SAF Purchasing Alliance

 - April 13, 2021, 9:42 AM
United Airlines and Eco-Skies Alliance partners have committed to buying 3.4 million gallons of SAF this year for the carriers' fleet, including its long-haul Boeing 777-300ERs. (Photo: United Airlines)

United Airlines and a group of more than a dozen other companies have committed to purchase some 3.4 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel this year under United’s newly launched Eco-Skies Alliance program, the Chicago-based carrier said Tuesday. That volume of SAF would eliminate about 31,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, or enough to fly passengers over 220 million miles, added United.

Inaugural participants, which represent a range of business sectors, include Siemens, Nike, Deloitte, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals.

"While we've partnered with companies for years to help them offset their flight emissions, 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," said United CEO Scott Kirby. "This is just the beginning. Our goal is to add more companies to the Eco-Skies Alliance program, purchase more SAF, and work across industries to find other innovative paths towards decarbonization."

United said it has committed to the airline industry’s largest single investment in SAF, buying more of the fuel than any other airline. World Energy has agreed to supply the SAF to Los Angeles International Airport, making it readily accessible to United's operations.

The airline pointed to several initiatives as evidence of its overall commitment to completely cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, including its February agreement with Archer Aviation to accelerate the development of an electric air taxi vehicle.

Separately, United recently became the first U.S. airline to give customers the option to contribute funds for additional SAF purchases or for use on initiatives United deems helpful to the effort to decarbonize aviation. 

Last year United became the first airline to commit to an investment in carbon capture and sequestration with a multimillion-dollar investment in 1PointFive, a joint venture by Oxy Low Carbon Ventures and Rusheen Capital that plans to build the first industrial-sized Direct Air Capture plant in the United States. The partners claim a single plant will capture and permanently sequester one million tonnes of CO2 each year, which equates to the work of 40 million trees.