Policy priorities

United works with government officials at all levels (international, federal, state and local), as well as our extensive network of partners and stakeholders, to advocate for policies and a regulatory environment that will enable our industry to grow and contribute to the economy safely and sustainably.

Congress is actively considering legislation reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and United continues to 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.

We continue to urge Congress and federal agencies to take steps that will improve our nation’s aviation system including:

  • Enhancing safety
  • Deploying new technology
  • Enhancing customer experience with streamlined operations and advanced infrastructure
  • Aligning staffing needs with airline operations and customer growth projections
  • Deploying procedures and technology that will reduce fuel burn and emissions

As United continues to invest in new aircraft with advanced systems, 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 with government agencies.

Strengthening the air traffic control system

Despite resource constraints, the aviation system in the United States, under the FAA’s leadership, remains the safest system in the world. This achievement was earned through tremendous collaboration between users of the national airspace system and the FAA. The FAA has taken important steps to increase the number of air traffic controllers, but there is more work left to do. Currently, the FAA Academy is operating at capacity, but the need for additional air traffic controllers exceeds the Academy’s capacity.

United has been working closely with the Secretary of Transportation, FAA Administrator and leadership of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization in its efforts to increase capacity for training and hiring to address areas of need across our aviation system. The FAA is expanding its controller training partnerships with aviation colleges and universities to increase capacity. We applaud these efforts and look forward to working with government partners to address opportunities to align staffing needs with demand for air traffic services.

Further, it is vital that the FAA has adequate, stable and predictable resources to invest in its facilities, technology and personnel, so that the United States continues to lead the world as the safest and most efficient aviation system.

Sustainability policy

Our goals are to reduce United’s GHG emissions to net zero by 2050 and reduce our carbon intensity by 50% by 2035 compared to 2019. To that end, we are aggressively advocating for policies that will help grow the supply of U.S. sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and incentivize the development of new technology to capture carbon from the atmosphere. We work with stakeholders from across the travel and energy value chains, as well as with academic and policy organizations to promote sustainability worldwide.

In recent years, United helped to found and lead a coalition of businesses across the entire SAF value chain, in successfully advocating for the enactment of the first SAF-specific tax credit for U.S. fuel producers to help grow the supply of SAF. This year United is working to formalize that powerful coalition as a standalone nonprofit, nonpartisan entity that will educate and advocate for policies that accelerate U.S. SAF development and deployment.

United works collaboratively to lead and broaden coalitions across the sustainability arena to shape public policies that will support a safer, cleaner and low-carbon future. At United, we know that effecting policy change to meet the sustainability challenge will require cross-sectoral partnerships and engagement at the local, state, national and international level.

In 2023, United participated at the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP 28) meeting in Dubai, where we worked closely with the U.S. government as well as with leaders from around the globe to advance solutions to decarbonize ‘hard-to-abate’ sectors such as aviation.

In addition to the federal tax credit for SAF, we also champion these issues at the state level, including a SAF tax credit in Illinois that was enacted in 2023, and an Investment Tax Credit for SAF facilities in Colorado that was also adopted 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.

United Next

United Next, our enterprise-wide investment in fleet, network, airports and customer experience, is underway. Over the next decade we intend to introduce more than 800 narrow and widebody aircraft to our fleet and expand our global network to reach new points on the map. To support the United Next goals, we engage government bodies including the Department of Homeland Security and its sub-agencies, the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as well as the FAA and others to ensure smooth execution and collaborate on innovative solutions to improve the passenger experience. United anticipates significant network and passenger growth, so it is vital that we partner with public sector partners to maintain a high level of security and facilitate an efficient, positive customer journey.

We also engage state and local government officials in efforts to modernize our airports including major terminal development projects at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport.

Workforce development

United Airlines’ growth plans highlight a robust need for pipelines of pilots, aviation maintenance technicians, digital technology professionals and workforce supporting operational and customer teams. We’re committed to investing in talent sourcing and development efforts to meet our growing human capital needs.

Calibrate and Innovate apprenticeships

At the end of 2022, United partnered with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the FAA to launch Calibrate, a Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship that provides maintenance technicians the opportunity to train and earn needed credentials to work on aircraft, airport facilities and ground service equipment. Shortly thereafter, United launched Innovate, an apprenticeship for careers in Digital Technologies.

Aviate Academy

United’s Aviate Academy graduated its first cohort of pilots in January 2023. Aviate is United's industry-leading pilot career development program offering aspiring and established pilots the most direct path to a United flight deck.

Calibrate, Innovate and Aviate are just three of United’s Pathway programs that are designed to remove barriers to promising careers in aviation for all.

Working across sectors

As Chair of the Business Roundtable’s Education and Workforce Committee, United’s CEO, Scott Kirby, leads peer CEOs in generating innovative policy solutions to expand non-college career pathways. From modernizing the federal workforce system to expanding Pell Grant eligibility and fostering new apprenticeships in a host of fields, the Business Roundtables CEOs have convened policy workshops with governors, members of Congress and the Administration that are actively improving workforce outcomes across the country.

We strongly encourage policymakers to support federal, state and local workforce development programs, including those administered by the FAA that expand scholarships and financing for those seeking to become pilots, mechanics or technicians; and we support efforts to build local pathways in our hub cities and states to meet our hiring needs.

Regulatory priorities

Regulations that allow airlines to cost-effectively connect people safely and sustainably are key to the ability of airlines to generate jobs, new routes, and invest in new technologies. Smart, collaborative, and performance-based regulations have contributed to a safe and efficient aviation system.

We routinely engage with government agencies around the world to ensure they take the interests and needs of our customers, employees, 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.