In an effort to rally businesses and consumers, United today launched the United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund, a first-of-its-kind investment vehicle designed to support start-ups focused on decarbonizing air travel by accelerating the research, production and technologies associated with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The fund starts 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 and potentially 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 invested in start-ups such as Cemvita, Dimensional Energy, and NEXT Renewable Fuels.
And in a first among U.S. airlines, anyone who buys a ticket on the United website or app now has the option to contribute to supplement United’s investment in the fund.
The first 10,000 people who choose to contribute will each receive 500 MileagePlus Miles as a thank-you.
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.
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 feedstocks including household trash or forest waste.
To date, United has invested in the future production of over three billion gallons of SAF – the most of any airline in the world.
“Solving climate change is doable but it requires hard work and real leadership,” said United CEO Scott Kirby.
“This fund is unique. It’s not about offsets or things that are just greenwashing. Instead, we’re creating a system that drives investment to build a new industry around sustainable aviation fuel, essentially from scratch.
“That’s the only way we can actually decarbonize aviation.”