United Airlines, the largest airline in the world, 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. This could put the airline on track to use approximately 10 million gallons in 2023, nearly three times more than last year and close to 10 times more than 2019.
Until now, United has invested in the future production of over five billion gallons of SAF – more than any airline. And as a result of the new announcement, the carrier will fly more miles in 2023 than any airline.
The airline has used SAF blends at Los Angeles International Airport since 2016 and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam since 2022 and will continue to use SAF at those airports in 2023.
“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,” said United Chief Sustainability Officer Lauren Riley. “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.”
The SAF deliveries commenced at San Francisco Airport in April, with United receiving 1.5 million gallons of SAF – out of the 10 million gallons planned for this year – for departing flights. The rest will be used at Los Angeles International Airport and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Deliveries have already kicked off last month, and the main supplier is Nestle. 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 will participate in London Heathrow’s SAF incentive program.
The Neste My Sustainable Aviation Fuel is derived from sustainably sourced, 100% renewable waste and residue raw materials, including used cooking oil and animal fat waste, claiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% over the fuel’s life cycle, compared to using conventional jet fuel.
United also welcomes new corporate participants to its Eco-Skies Alliance program, who will contribute to the purchase of sustainable aviation fuel. It is an innovative program designed for participating companies to work together to share the “green premium” or the cost associated with purchasing lower-emission fuels.
Launched in April 2021, United’s Eco-Skies Alliance program 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.