United Airlines Introduces Eco-Skies Alliance Program, Allows Travellers to Contribute

United Airlines is one of the largest American airlines that operate flights across the world. Besides transporting people from one corner of the world to another, the airline is also sensitive to climate change and its reeling impact on the environment. Over the years, United Airlines has taken several steps to lower its carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases emissions and fly more sustainably.

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As per the data based on the Global Carbon Project, international transport emits about 1.26 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. United Airlines have been actively working to reduce its carbon footsteps and lead the airline industry towards a sustainable future. Keeping that in mind, the Company has recently launched its Eco-Skies Alliance Program. 

Eco-Skies Alliance Program by United Airlines

The Eco-Skies Alliance program is a unique program launched by United Airlines where it works with several global corporations to ensure sustainable flying. As part of this program, United Airlines and about a dozen global corporations will contribute about 3.4 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) collectively in the year 2021. This is three times the roughly 1 million gallons of SAF that the Company has used every year since 2016.

The SAF goal set by all the companies under the Eco-Skies Alliance program will remove about 31,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to more than 220 million passenger miles. This is possible because SAF reduces greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 80 per cent as compared to the regular conventional jet fuel. SAF is being used by airlines since 2008 to reduce direct emissions of greenhouse gases. However, as per industry groups, SAF contributes to roughly one per cent of the total aviation fuel used worldwide. 

United Airlines has made the largest SAF investment in the industry. As compared to other airlines across the world, it has bought more SAF. Besides, the Company will have easy access to SAF at Los Angeles International Airport thanks to United’s long-term partner World Energy that will supply SAF to the airport. 

Global corporations who have joined hands with United Airlines for the Eco-Skies program are Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte, HP Inc, DHL Global Forwarding, Nike, Siemens, Autodesk, CEVA Logistics, Palantir, DSV Panalpina and Takeda Pharmaceuticals. These companies have recognized the need for stringent steps and active efforts to accelerate solutions that can decarbonize the aviation industry. Therefore, they have come forward from their respective industries to reduce their impact on the environment at source due to aviation.

United Airlines hopes to add more companies to their Eco-Skies Alliance program so that more SAF can be purchased and greenhouse gas emissions across industries can be reduced. They are also open to finding other innovative ways through which industries can decarbonize aviation.

Customer Contribution

The Eco-Skies Alliance program also allows the corporate customers of United Airlines to reduce their carbon footprints and help in making sustainable aviation the new normal. It provides the customers with an opportunity to contribute funds to purchase additional SAF. They can also contribute funds towards other greener alternatives that can be used to reduce carbon emissions by the aviation industry.

This customer contribution option has been introduced because more and more customers are showing interest in contributing towards lasting solutions that can decarbonize aviation. According to the CEO of United Airlines, a wide range of their customers, including individuals, cargo shippers as well as corporations, have shared concerns over climate change. Such customers can now contribute towards lowering aviation-related emissions by visiting the website of United Airlines.

Bridging the Gap Between Customers and Policymakers

Under the Eco-Skies Alliance program, United Airlines will connect its customers directly with state policymakers allowing them to advocate for policies that will help to accelerate permanent solutions to decarbonize the aviation industry. This is important as the strong support of federal and state policy leaders are essential to make air travel more sustainable in the long run. With United Airlines’ customers voicing their concerns over the adverse impact of air travel on the environment, the policymakers are more likely to introduce policies towards decarbonizing air travel.

Commitment to Convert 100% Green

United Airlines has committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 100 per cent and turn 100 per cent green by the year 2050. The Company plans to achieve this goal by taking the path of using SAF to reduce greenhouse gas emissions resulting from flying instead of taking the conventional path that contributes to climate change.

To achieve this goal, United Airlines has taken a few steps over the last few years. Take a look:

  • In 2015, the Company invested USD 30 million in Fulcrum BioEnergy, which is a producer of SAF and converts trash into low-carbon jet fuel.
  • In 2016, United Airlines started using SAF from World Energy continuously in their regular operations.
  • In 2019, the Company invested USD 40 million in an initiative working towards the acceleration of the development of SAF and other technologies that can help in the decarbonizing of the aviation industry.
  • In 2019, the airline operated the most eco-friendly commercial flight in the history of aviation known as the ‘Flight of the Planet’.
  • In 2020, United Airlines committed to investing in carbon capture and sequestration by making a multi-million investment in 1PointFive, which plans to build a Direct Air Capture plant in the US of the size of the industry.
  • In February 2021, the Company entered into an agreement with Archer Aviation for the accelerated development and production of electric aircraft, which can serve as a green alternative to air taxi.

Summing It Up

Climate change is a reality with which the whole world is dealing right now. It has led to adverse impacts on our environment and threatens to destroy the life we have. Realizing the need for bold actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, United Airlines have committed itself to turn 100 per cent green by 2050. The newly launched Eco-Skies Alliance program by United Airlines is a step by the airline and associated global corporations towards reducing the climate impact of aviation.

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