On my first day as United’s CEO nearly two years ago, I established an ambitious goal to lead United toward a carbon-free future.
That’s not an easy feat when you consider that burning jet fuel is, currently, a core requirement of our business. At United, we are dedicated to redefining the future of air travel, with sustainability at the forefront, not because it’s easy but because it’s simply the right thing to do.
As we kick off Earth Month, we are reminded just how important our sustainability efforts are. As an industry that depends on fossil fuels to operate, we recognize our contribution to climate change and our responsibility to solve it. That’s why we’re taking tangible steps to lessen our impact on the planet—and being transparent while doing so.
The most significant step is the pledge we’ve made to become 100% Green by eliminating our greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 without relying on the use of traditional carbon offsets. In other
words, we’re not focused on splashy marketing claims. We’re committed to unique solutions that have the potential to make a real difference for the health of our planet, including:
• United has committed to purchasing more than twice as much sustainable jet fuel as the rest of the world’s airlines’ public commitments combined.
• United is the largest airline to invest in zero-emission engine developer ZeroAvia to retrofit regional aircraft with hydrogen-electric engines.
• United launched the first-of-its-kind Eco-Skies Alliance program, offering corporate customers the opportunity to reduce their environmental impact and help make sustainable aviation the norm.
• United made aviation history by operating the first passenger flight using 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in one engine, from Chicago to Washington, D.C.
• United has the largest offtake agreement in aviation history, for 1.5 billion gallons (enough to fly more than 57 million passengers) of SAF from Alder Fuels.
• United became the first airline to announce a commitment to invest in direct air capture, a carbon capture and sequestration technology, to potentially utilize captured carbon to make low-carbon fuels.
Full-scale solutions to decarbonizing the airline industry will take time, making it even more critical that a company like United invests today. We will avoid near-term band-aids, such as carbon offsets, and focus on solutions that permanently remove the emissions from flying.
This is only the beginning, and we have a lot of work to do. We need more expertise, more support, and the combined will of all of us to achieve success.
As always, we want to thank you for your business. When you choose to fly with us, it sends the message that sustainable air travel is something you care about, and it enables us to continue to make the right choices for you and our planet.
CEO, United Airlines