United Airlines has become the first US airline to publicly commit to reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050, relative to 2005. The pledge represents the equivalent of removing 4.5 million vehicles from the road each year, or the total number of cars in Los Angeles and New York City combined.
The airline will continue to invest in the company's ongoing environmental initiatives to support this commitment, including expanding the use of more sustainable aviation biofuels, welcoming newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft into its fleet and implementing further operational changes to better conserve fuel.
To mark the pledgee, United will operate flight 44 today from its hub in San Francisco to Zurich with the carrier’s most fuel-efficient aircraft—the Boeing 787—via a blend of sustainable aviation fuel supplied by World Energy’s California-based AltAir Fuels.
The biojet fuel was made from Carinata seeds from Canadian agri-tech company Agrisoma and refined by World Energy’s Paramount facility. Production of biofuel from Carinata seeds yields both biofuel and, as a byproduct, high-protein animal feed. Stems and leaves from the crop are returned to the field to enrich the soil for subsequent crops. Carinata is the first oilseed to be certified sustainable by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), the independent global standard and certification program for sustainable biofuels.
The airline will use 16,000 gallons of biofuel at a 30/70 blend with conventional jet fuel for the flight to Zurich, representing the longest transatlantic flight to date—and longest by a US airline—powered by a biofuel volume of this size. United has sourced more than 2 million gallons of sustainable aviation biofuel since 2016 and is responsible for more than 50% of the airline industry’s commitments to biofuel.
United’s most significant environmental achievements include:
Becoming the first airline globally to use sustainable aviation biofuel on an ongoing daily basis, marking a significant milestone in the industry by moving beyond test programs and demonstrations to the everyday use of low-carbon biofuels in ongoing operations.
Investing more than $30 million in California-based sustainable aviation fuels producer Fulcrum BioEnergy, which remains the single largest investment by any airline globally in alternative fuels. United’s agreement to purchase nearly 1 billion gallons from Fulcrum BioEnergy is the largest offtake agreement for biofuel in the airline industry.
Becoming the first airline to fly with Boeing’s Scimitar winglets, which reduce fuel consumption by an additional 2 percent; United is the largest Scimitar winglet operator today, with nearly 400 aircraft equipped with these winglets.
Becoming the first US airline to repurpose items from the carrier’s international premium cabin amenity kits and partnering with Clean the World to donate hygiene products to those in critical need.
Eliminating non-recyclable plastic stirring sticks and cocktail picks on aircraft and replacing them with an environmentally-friendly product made of 100 percent bamboo.
Continuing to replace its eligible ground equipment with cleaner, electrically powered alternatives, with nearly 40% of the eligible fleet converted to date.