United becomes first U.S. airline to sign agreement to purchase Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) overseas

United Airlines, which has invested in more sustainable fuel production than any other airline in the world, became the first US airline to sign an international purchase agreement for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The airline has signed a new purchase agreement with Neste that provides United the right to buy up to 52.5 million gallons over the next three years for United flights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, and potentially other airports as well.

Neste will provide United with 2.5 million gallons of SAF in Amsterdam in the first year. United will also have the right to purchase up to 20 million gallons in the second year, and up to 30 million gallons in the third year, at Amsterdam or other locations that Neste can supply throughout the globe, as Neste increases its SAF production.

This supply agreement is enabled by Neste’s ambitious growth strategy, which will see the company producing 515 million gallons of SAF (1.5 million metric tons) per year by the end of 2023. Neste has been producing and delivering SAF since 2011 and has a proven track record of supplying SAF to customers in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

SAF delivers the performance of conventional jet fuel but with a significantly smaller carbon footprint on a lifecycle basis. Neste’s SAF reduces lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions (“GHG”) by up to 80% compared to conventional jet fuel and burns cleaner than conventional jet fuel reducing non-CO2 emissions, including particulate matter (PM). Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel™ is produced from 100% sustainably sourced renewable waste and residue raw materials, including used cooking oil and animal fat waste.

United has aggressively pursued strategic investments in SAF producers and revolutionary technologies including carbon capture, hydrogen-electric engines, electric regional aircraft, and urban air mobility. United has invested in more SAF production than any other airline globally.

United’s 100% green commitment

Here are some of the ways United plans to make sustainability the new standard in flight:

  • In March, United invested in synthetic biology company Cemvita Factory for them to begin R&D efforts to bioengineer microbes with the express purpose of creating SAF.
  • In December 2021, United purchased an equity stake in hydrogen-electric engine developer ZeroAvia, becoming the largest airline to invest in zero-emission engines for regional aircraft.
  • In December 2021, United became the first in aviation history to fly an aircraft with passengers using 100% SAF.
  • In September 2021, United agreed to purchase 1.5 billion gallons of SAF paired with an investment in Alder Fuels – enough to fly more than 57 million passengers.
  • United is also an investor in Fulcrum BioEnergy, where United has an option to purchase up to 900 million gallons of SAF.
  • In July 2021, United announced that along with Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Mesa Airlines, it invested in electric aircraft startup Heart Aerospace. Heart Aerospace is developing the ES-19, a 19-seat electric aircraft that has the potential to fly customers with zero emissions when powered by renewable electricity.
  • In July 2021, Air Transport World magazine named United its Eco-Airline of the Year for the third time.
  • In February 2021, United announced an agreement to work with Archer Aviation to accelerate the development and production of their electric aircraft – an urban mobility solution that has the potential to serve as an ‘air taxi,’ giving United customers another opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint before they even board a United flight.
  • In 2019, United operated the Flight for the Planet, which at the time represented the most-eco-friendly commercial flight of its kind in the history of commercial aviation.
  • In 2018, United became the first U.S. airline to commit to reducing its GHG emissions, by 50% by 2050. This goal has since been superseded by the airline’s 100% green net zero commitment.
  • In 2016, United became the first airline globally to use SAF in regular operations on a continuous basis with SAF from World Energy.

United Airlines aircraft photo gallery (Boeing, new livery):