United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund ahead on points


As well as adding bags, a hotel or a hire car, passengers booking a flight on United Airlines can now support the United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund.

United says the fund – which is targeting Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) – has launched with $100m. The other launch partners are Air Canada, Boeing, GE Aerospace, JPMorgan Chase and Honeywell.

The suggested donation for passengers is $3.50. United says that if all the 152m passengers it carried in 2022 donated this, there would be enough to fund a SAF refinery capable of producing 40m gallons a year. (It estimates that it costs $200,000 per barrel per day to build a SAF refinery.)

By this calculation, the $100m fund will be enough for a plant making 500m barrels. United Ventures says this is just the start and that it is keen for other companies to invest in the fund as well. United Ventures has already invested in five SAF companies – Alder Fuels, Cemvita, Dimensional, Fulcrum and Next Renewable Fuels – and is talking to others.

This fund is unique. It’s not about offsets or things that are just greenwashing,” said Scott Kirby, CEO, United Airlines. “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 decarbonise aviation.”

The airline stresses that passengers are only making donations and do not get to be limited partners (which is a shame as a partners’ meeting would be great fun).

The first 10,000 customers to contribute will also get 500 United MileagePlus miles. The PointsGuy values each mile at 1.21 cents each. So a customer donating $3.50 is not only helping to fund the future of SAF, they are also winning on miles.

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