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United Airlines Launches Fund To Support Sustainable Fuel Start-Ups

On Tuesday, United Airlines launched a $100-million investment vehicle to support start-ups developing and exploring the production of sustainable aviation fuel in an effort to accelerate the research, production, and technologies associated with SAF.

United announced the creation of the United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund, which starts with more than $100 million in investments from United and its partners Air Canada, Boeing, GE Aerospace, JPMorgan Chase, and Honeywell.   

The partners, and potentially additional corporations, will invest through the fund in start-ups working on SAF technology and production, start-ups that will be identified by United.

"Solving climate change is doable but it requires hard work and real leadership," United's chief executive Scott Kirby said in a statement.

"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," the executive added.

In a first for a U.S. airline, anyone who buys a ticket on the United website or app now has the option to contribute to supplement United's investment in the fund. The first 10,000 people who choose to contribute will each receive 500 MileagePlus Miles as a thank-you, the airline said.

Some oil supermajors have also started investing in and producing SAF, including France's TotalEnergies and the UK's BP.

Last year, TotalEnergies launched SAF production at its Normandy platform, adding to the biojet fuel production capacities of La Mède bio-refinery and the Oudalle plant. The supermajor also signed in December 2022 an agreement with Air France-KLM for the delivery of more than one million cubic meters/800,000 tons of SAF by TotalEnergies to Air France-KLM Group airlines over the 10-year period from 2023.

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BP, for its part, signed a deal in 2022 to supply DHL Express with sustainable aviation fuel until 2026 as part of a new strategic collaboration with the global logistics company.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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