LONDON – In an effort to rally businesses and consumers, US carrier United today launched the United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund.
The initiative is 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 (UAV Sustainable Flight Fund “limited 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.
Sustainable aviation fuel
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.
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.
To date, United has invested in the future production of over three billion gallons of SAF – the most of any airline in the world. (Based on publicly announced airline offtake agreements for future purchases of SAF).
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.
“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.”
Companies interested in joining the fund can visit this link.