Sustainable fuel sources

in Our environment

United is years ahead of all U.S. airlines in using and investing in sustainable aviation fuel.

It’s great to be first, especially when you’re an airline. And even better when it means you’re doing something good for the environment.

Infographic, a timeline of firsts. 2009, United ran the first alternative fuel test flight using fuel derived from algae. 2011, The first commercial flight powered by advanced biofuel takes off with United. 2013, United partakes in the first commercial-scale supply agreement for sustainable aviation biofuel 2015, United invests in Fulcrum BioEnergy, becoming the first U.S. airline to invest in a biofuels company. 2016, United becomes the first U.S. airline to use renewable biofuel for regularly scheduled flights. 2018, 2050 Goal; SFO-ZRH longest transatlantic biofuel flight. 2019, Renewal of World Energy agreement

In 2019 we strengthened our emerging reputation as the world's most environmentally conscious airline by expanding our contract with Boston-based World Energy, agreeing to purchase up to 10 million gallons of cost-competitive, commercial-scale, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) over the next two years. This fuel, which we currently use to help sustainably power every flight departing out of our Los Angeles Airport hub (LAX), achieves more than a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis.

Our contract extension follows our original purchase agreement in 2013, helping us to make history in 2016 when we became the first airline in the world to use SAF on a continuous basis. We are still currently the only U.S. airline to use SAF in our regular operations. World Energy's fuel is made from agricultural waste and has sustainability certification from the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials. United has purchased over 3 million gallons of SAF at LAX from World Energy (formerly AltAir Fuels) in the first three years of operation.

In addition to our purchase agreement with World Energy, we have invested in more than $30 million in California-based sustainable fuel developer Fulcrum BioEnergy. Our investment remains the single largest investment by any airline globally in sustainable fuel. And our agreement to purchase nearly 1 billion gallons from Fulcrum BioEnergy is also the largest offtake agreement for SAF in the airline industry. In 2019 we committed a further $40 million to accelerate the development of SAF and other decarbonization technologies.

Our supply agreements represent more than 50 percent of the commercial aviation industry's total agreements for SAF.

Many industries have talked about the need to develop and use sustainable fuels. At United, we are proud to be leading the way in this very important trend.

Learn more about sustainable fuel sources.

Recent stories about sustainable fuel sources

Sustainable biofuel plant announced near Chicago (December 13, 2018)

Expanding our commitment to powering more flights with biofuel (May 22, 2019)