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United Airlines expands World Energy biojet deal

In the United States (US), air carrier United Airlines says that it has strengthened its emerging reputation "as the world's most environmentally conscious airline" by expanding its contract with Boston-based World Energy, agreeing to purchase up to 10 million gallons of cost-competitive, commercial-scale, sustainable aviation biofuel over the next two years.

United Airlines has expanded its sustainable aviation biojet fuel offtake contract with World Energy, agreeing to purchase up to 10 million (US) gallons (≈ 37.8 million litres) over the next two years (photo courtesy United).

According to a statement, the biofuel, which is currently used to help sustainably power every flight departing out of Los Angeles Airport (LAX) hub, achieves more than a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on a lifecycle basis.

The contract extension follows United’s original purchase agreement in 2013, helping it to become the first airline in the world to use sustainable aviation biofuel on a continuous basis and the only US airline to use biofuel in regular operations.

RSB certified

World Energy’s biofuel is made from agricultural waste and has received sustainability certification from the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB). In March 2018, World Energy revealed that it planned to invest US$350 million to fully convert its Paramount, California facility to renewable diesel and sustainable aviation jet fuel, bringing its total capacity to 300 million (US) gallons (≈ 1.13 billion litres) of production annually at that location, one of the company’s six low-carbon fuel manufacturing plants.

Investing in sustainable aviation biofuel is one of the most effective measures a commercial airline can take to reduce its impact on the environment. As leaders in this space, United and World Energy are setting an example for the industry on how innovators can work together to bring our customers, colleagues and communities toward a more sustainable future, said Scott Kirby, President United Airlines.

The contract renewal with World Energy will further assist United in achieving its commitment to reduce its GHG emissions by 50 percent by 2050.

Great companies lead. We are honored to extend our commitment to United to advance their efforts to drive change to a lower carbon future, said Gene Gebolys, CEO, World Energy.

In addition, United has invested in more than US$30 million in California-based sustainable fuel developer Fulcrum BioEnergy and is the single largest investment to date by any airline globally in sustainable fuels. The agreement to purchase nearly 1 billion gallons from Fulcrum BioEnergy is also the largest offtake agreement for biofuel in the airline industry.

Combined, United’s aviation biojet fuel supply agreements currently represent more than 50 percent of the commercial aviation industry’s total agreements for sustainable aviation biofuel.

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