United works with government officials at all levels (international, federal, state and local) and our extensive network of partners and stakeholders to advocate for policies and a regulatory environment that will enable our industry to safely and sustainably grow and contribute to the economy.
As Congress considers legislation reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), United will engage policymakers and stakeholders to pursue policies that prioritize the safety, efficiency and reliability of our nation’s aviation system while also investing in a modern aviation workforce, strengthening our economy and advancing sustainability.
Funding for the FAA’s Air Traffic Control System
Despite resource constraints, the commercial aviation system in the United States under FAA leadership is one of the safest aviation systems in the world. However, recent events, such as the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) outage in January 2023 and staffing shortages across the system, have led to delays and cancellations for our customers. As of year-end 2022, the FAA had the lowest number of air traffic controllers (ATC) in decades, despite an increasingly complicated airspace, the rise of new entrants and a recovering, growing commercial aviation industry. We believe it is vital that the FAA has adequate, stable and predictable resources so that the United States can continue to lead the world as a the safest and most efficient aviation system.
Modernizing air traffic control infrastructure
We continue to urge Congress and the FAA to more quickly modernize the US ATC infrastructure to:
- Improve safety
- Decrease flight delays
- Enhance customer service
- Create jobs
- Reduce fuel demand and harmful emissions
While United continues to invest in new aircraft with advanced systems, training and new equipment, progress with government partners is critical to realizing the benefits of a modern air traffic control system. We continue to champion these issues with industry organizations including Airlines for America and the International Air Transport Association as well as government agencies.
To achieve our environmental sustainability goals, we are aggressively engaging policymakers to pursue policies that will help grow the supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and incentivize the development of new technology to remove carbon in the atmosphere. We are working with academic and policy organizations to promote sustainability throughout the aviation and corporate sector.
United has been at the forefront of developing and advocating for policies that support the accelerated deployment of aviation decarbonization technologies. United co-led the broad-based coalition of airlines, SAF producers, labor unions and technology companies that worked with federal policymakers and environmental NGOs to champion passage of the Sustainable Skies Act SAF Blender's Tax Credit. We also champion these issues at the state level, including a SAF tax credit in Illinois that was enacted in 2023. United will continue to support policies that help to scale and deploy clean energy technologies at the local, state, federal and international level.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
As a global airline driven by our purpose and values, we’re in the business of bringing people together. Looking ahead, we’re aiming even higher: We’re committed to doing our part to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace and world. We’re determined to be a global leader in DEI and will continue to pursue positions and public policy that open door of opportunities for our employees, prospective employees and the communities we serve. This means identifying key public policy issues in which to engage, including promoting non-discrimination, providing greater access to underrepresented communities for careers in aviation and supporting diverse-owned businesses and suppliers.
The return of commercial flights to pre-COVID levels has once again highlighted the need to ensure a robust pipeline of pilots and aviation maintenance technicians. At United, we are doing our part to develop a strong pipeline and diverse aviation workforce of the future.
In early 2023 and in partnership with the US Department of Labor (DOL) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, we launched Calibrate, a DOL-registered apprenticeship that allows prospective aviation maintenance technicians to train and earn the FAA certification required to maintain United Aircraft. Additionally, United’s Aviate Academy graduated its first cohort of pilots in January of 2023, who, after additional intensive training, will fly on behalf of United Airlines. Aviate is United's industry-leading pilot career development program offering aspiring and established pilots the most direct path to a United flight deck. For more information on Aviate, see our DEI pages.
We strongly encourage policymakers to support FAA federal workforce development programs expanding funding to include scholarships and financing for those seeking to become pilots, mechanics or technicians.
Regulations that allow airlines to cost-effectively connect people safely and sustainably will be key to the ability of airlines to generate jobs new routes and invest in new technologies.
We routinely engage with government agencies around the world to ensure they take the interests and needs of our customers, employees, business and the communities we serve into account when making legislative and regulatory decisions. United also partners with governments on legislative and regulatory activities aimed at improving safety and security and protecting the environment and the welfare of our employees and customers.