United Rallies Businesses and Consumers With New, First-of-Its-Kind $100+ Million Sustainable Flight Fund
Investment vehicle supports start-ups focused on the reduction of carbon emissions in aviation through sustainable aviation fuel research, technology and production
Fund starts with more than $100 million investment from United and its inaugural corporate partners like JPMorgan Chase, GE Aerospace, Honeywell, Air Canada, and Boeing
Customers can now see an estimate of each flight's carbon footprint in their search on United's website and app and can also contribute to supplement United's investment in the United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund when buying a ticket - first 10,000 people to add to the fund receive MileagePlus® miles as a thank-you
United has already invested in the future production of three billion gallons of SAF - the most of any airline in the world*
CHICAGO, February 27, 2023 /3BL Media/ - In an effort to rally businesses and consumers, United launched the United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund SM, 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."
UAV Sustainable Flight Fund
The UAV Sustainable Flight Fund is open to investment by corporations across industries and the fund will prioritize investment in new technology, advanced fuel sources and proven producers, all in an effort to scale the supply of SAF. Partners of the fund also have the potential to gain preferential access to environmental attributes associated with United's supply of SAF.
Companies interested in joining the fund can visit united.com/ventures.
United has already made investments in or signed purchase agreements with companies using a variety of ingredients and technologies to produce SAF, including feedstocks like ethanol, animal byproducts, forestry and crop waste, and municipal waste, as well as early-stage, promising technologies like synthetic biology and power to liquids. United Airlines Ventures will move selected existing SAF investments to establish the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund portfolio.
Consumer Awareness and Call to Action
United is also educating consumers about their air travel carbon footprint and giving them the option to take action.
Starting today on United.com and the United app, United becomes the first U.S. airline to show customers an estimate of each flight's carbon footprint in their search. Green shading will indicate a lower-carbon option on a per economy seat passenger basis in a customer's chosen itinerary. A flight's carbon footprint is measured in kg CO2e (kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent) and United's estimates, which could differ from actual flight emissions, are based on aircraft type, flying time, seat capacity and the number of people and cargo on a given flight.
And consumers who book travel through United for travel within or from the U.S. will now see an option to contribute to supplement United's investment in the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund before check-out. Customers have the choice to contribute $1, $3.50 or $7.00.****
The default option for customer contributions is set at $3.50 to illustrate the potential impact of customer action at scale: if the 152 million people who flew on United in 2022 each contributed just $3.50 to the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund, that would be enough to design and build a SAF refinery capable of producing as much as 40 million gallons of alternative fuel annually.*****
The Federal Government Recognizes the Value of SAF
The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act includes the largest governmental climate change investments in U.S. history - a new blender's tax credit specifically for SAF along with other critical incentives for clean energy and carbon capture – that will help spur an increase in SAF infrastructure and supply while lowering costs for SAF consumers.
The U.S. military currently uses nearly five billion gallons of jet fuel annually and the Department of Defense will use a jet fuel blend containing at least 10% SAF by 2028 because of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.
And according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the country's vast feedstock resources are enough to meet the projected SAF demand of the entire U.S. aviation industry.
United's Commitment to Net Zero Emissions by 2050
United aims to be 100% green by reducing its GHG emissions 100% by 2050, without relying on traditional carbon offsets. In addition to the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund, United has launched a SAF purchasing program called the Eco-Skies Alliance and established a venture fund - United Airlines Ventures - to identify and invest in companies and technologies that can decarbonize air travel. These strategic investments include carbon capture, hydrogen-electric engines, electric regional aircraft and air taxis.
United's shared purpose is "Connecting People. Uniting the World." From our U.S. hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., United operates the most comprehensive global route network among North American carriers. United is bringing back our customers' favorite destinations and adding new ones on its way to becoming the world's best airline. For more about how to join the United team, please visit www.united.com/careers and more information about the company is at www.united.com. United Airlines Holdings, Inc., the parent company of United Airlines, Inc., is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL". For further information about our environmental impact, review United's Corporate Responsibility Report and Annual Report on Form 10-K, available at crreport.united.com and ir.united.com.
MileagePlus Footnote Regarding Miles Awarded for Customer Contributions
Must be a MileagePlus member to receive miles. MileagePlus membership is free.
United Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains certain "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 relating to, among other things, plans and projections regarding the company's financial position, results of operations, market position, capacity, fleet, product development and business strategy as well as the company's ESG goals, targets, commitments, strategies and initiatives and related business and stakeholder impacts. All statements that are not statements of historical facts are, or may be deemed to be, forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are based on historical performance and current expectations, estimates, forecasts and projections about our future financial results, plans, objectives, goals, targets, commitments, strategies and initiatives and involve inherent risks, assumptions and uncertainties, known or unknown, including internal or external factors that could delay, divert or change any of them, that are difficult to predict, may be beyond our control and could cause our future financial results, plans, objectives, goals, targets, commitments, strategies and initiatives to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, the statements. These risks, assumptions, uncertainties and other factors include, among others, any failure to meet stated ESG goals, targets, commitments, strategies and initiatives in the time frame expected or at all as a result of many factors, including changing societal, market, competitive, regulatory or stakeholder expectations; any delay or inability of United Airlines or the United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund (the "SFF") to realize the expected benefits of the proposed transaction, including from a delay or failure of any project to be fully developed or become operational or to produce sustainable aviation fuel or other ESG-related product in the amounts contemplated or at all, or from a delay or failure of any technology to be fully developed or become functional or marketable or to serve the purpose for which it was designed, or a failure of the SFF to achieve any return on an investment by the SFF, or a realization of a partial or total loss of any investment by the SFF. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed. Forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated together with the many risks and uncertainties that affect United's business and market, particularly those identified in the "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" and "Risk Factors" sections in United's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2022, as updated by our subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Risks and uncertainties related to United's environmental compliance, climate commitments and climate strategy are further described in Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors of United's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022—"We are subject to many forms of environmental regulation and liability and risks associated with climate change and may incur substantial costs as a result. In addition, failure to achieve or demonstrate progress towards our climate goals may expose us to liability and reputational harm."
The statements included in this document are made only as of the date of this document and except as otherwise required by applicable law or regulation, United Airlines undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, changed circumstances or otherwise. In particular, United Airlines reserves the right to change, amend, supplement or abandon some or all of the statements regarding goals, targets, commitments, strategies, initiatives, intentions and other statements from time to time without notice.
In addition, some of our disclosures in this press release are estimates or based on assumptions due to inherent measurement uncertainties. For example, United's statement that it has already invested in the future production than any airline in the world is based on publicly available future purchase agreements for SAF of certain airlines as of the date hereof.
* Based on publicly announced airline offtake agreements for future purchases of SAF
** References to "partner" refer to UAV Sustainable Flight Fund "limited partners"
*** Based on publicly announced airline offtake agreements for future purchases of SAF
**** Customers will not have any interest in United's investments made with customer contributions (which will be commingled with United's other investments in the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund), and customers will not participate in any gains or losses associated with United's investments in the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund.
***** United derived these approximated figures based on an illustrative capital expenditure benchmark of $200,000 per barrel per day to build a SAF production facility.