United Airlines was named the Eco-Airline of the Year by Air Transport World magazine. The award recognizes an airline in global commercial aviation for its environmental leadership as demonstrated by consistent and impactful environmental action within the company and industry.
United was recognized for its multiple initiatives in 2016 and prior years, including becoming the first US airline to begin using sustainable biofuel for regularly scheduled flights. It is the second time since the airline launched its Eco-Skies program that it has been given this honor.
"Innovation and sustainability are twin engines that drive our progress as the most environmentally conscious airline in the world," said Oscar Munoz, United's chief executive officer in a release on the United website. "From pioneering investments in biofuels to increasing efficiency and reducing waste to supporting a single global market based measure for carbon emissions, United is committed to innovating solutions that we hope will become the expectation for our industry, not the exception. And while we take great pride in this important recognition for our efforts, the measure of our success is the opinion of our children and grandchildren who will look back on our efforts and say that we lived up to our obligations to them in protecting the planet for future generations."
Flying consumes quite a bit of fuel and resources, but the Eco-Skies program is the company’s commitment to the environment and the actions taken daily to create a more sustainable future. In addition to incorporating sustainable biofuel into its operations at Los Angeles International Airport, United's recent environmental achievements include:
- Investing $30 million in US-based alternative aviation fuels developer Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc., which represented the single largest investment by any airline globally in alternative fuels.
- Becoming the first US airline to repurpose items from the carrier's international premium cabin amenity kits and partnering with Clean the World to donate hygiene products to those in critical need.
- Partnering with the Federal Aviation Administration to demonstrate the potential benefits of new satellite-based technology for instrument landings that enable aircraft to use fuel more efficiently on arrival and land at normal rates in challenging weather.
- Continuing to replace its eligible ground equipment and service vehicles with cleaner, electrically powered alternatives, with 37% of the fleet converted to date.
- Becoming the first airline to fly with Boeing's Split Scimitar winglets, which reduce fuel consumption by up to 2%; United is the largest Split Scimitar winglet customer today.
- Being the only US-based airline named to the Carbon Disclosure Project's "Leadership" category for its environmental disclosure, with an A- Climate score in 2016.
- Sourcing illy coffee's internationally certified supply chain of farmers who earn above-market prices in exchange for meeting quality and sustainability standards for the finest coffee.
- Offering Eco-Skies CarbonChoice, the airline industry's only integrated carbon offset program for corporate business travel and cargo shipments.
Additionally, the carrier added a carbon footprint measurement to its 2017 Global Performance Commitment. If United does not meet the goals of its 2017 Global Performance Commitment, the airline will compensate eligible corporate accounts.