Sustainable fuel sources

in Our environment

For the last decade, we’ve led the industry in developing low-carbon sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to decarbonize our operations.

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

As of the end of 2020, we expanded our contract with Boston-based World Energy (formerly AltAir Fuels), 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. World Energy, which has sustainability certification from the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, uses agricultural waste to produce its SAF. As of December 2020, approximately 4 million gallons of SAF have been purchased at LAX from World Energy.

In addition to our purchase agreement with World Energy, we have invested more than $30 million in California-based sustainable fuel developer Fulcrum BioEnergy. Our investment remains the single largest by any airline globally in a SAF producer. Additionally, our agreement to purchase nearly 1 billion gallons from Fulcrum BioEnergy is also the largest offtake agreement for SAF in the airline industry, and represents nearly half of the commercial aviation industry's publicly announced purchase agreements for SAF.

Learn more about sustainable fuel sources.

Recent stories about sustainable fuel sources

United Airlines Makes History with Launch of Regularly Scheduled Flights Using Sustainable Biofuel (March 11, 2016)

United - Eco-Skies - LAX Biofuel Initiative With AltAir Fuels (March 14, 2016: VIDEO)

Biofuel takes flight in Los Angeles (March 17, 2016)

Biofuel 101 (September 8, 2017: VIDEO)

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