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United has been touting its commitment to Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and environmental action for some time. I’m not sure if it’s currently having any material impact or is more for good press, but United has committed to several efforts to make its fleet more environmentally friendly. United describes Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) as:
SAF is an alternative to conventional jet fuel that, on a lifecycle basis, reduces greenhouse gas emissions associated with air travel compared to conventional jet fuel alone. SAF is being made from used cooking oil and agricultural waste, and, in the future, could be made from other feedstocks including household trash or forest waste. To date, United has invested in the future production of over three billion gallons of SAF – the most of any airline in the world.”
To promote this effort, United has appointed another Oscar to the C Suite (the last being CEO, Oscar Munoz, who departed a few years ago). Oscar the Grouch will be its first “Chief Trash Officer.” I get that SAF is made from trash, but frankly so is the food served in United’s Polaris cabins. If you asked me to guess, I would have said he was coming on to oversee catering since most of it tastes like it came from his can. But, I digress.
United wants to be 100% green by completely reducing its GHG emissions by 2050 (without relying on traditional carbon offsets). In addition to the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund, United has launched a SAF purchasing program called the Eco-Skies Alliance and established the United Airlines Ventures fund to identify and invest in companies/technologies that decarbonize air travel. These investments include carbon capture, hydrogen-electric engines, electric regional aircraft and air taxis (in addition to this push for SAF).
United Chief Communications Officer, Josh Earnest, adds:
United has invested in more sustainable aviation fuel production than any airline in the world, by far. Every airline burns jet fuel to run their business, but no airline will solve climate change on its own. So United has enlisted Oscar to help us educate the traveling public of all ages about SAF and rally them to the cause of fighting climate change. From banana peels to fryer grease, Oscar is uniquely qualified to help us explain why trash could be the treasure that fuels the jets of the future.”
United is making a huge media push with this campaign through a series of videos, out-of-home placements, and a digital ad campaign. Here is one video they released (coincidentally where Oscar is making his lunch):
For this partnership, United Airlines will donate to Sesame Workshop’s nonprofit educational organization known as the Welcome Sesame initiative. Sesame Workshop will also be included in United’s Miles on a Mission, where travelers can donate miles to support its global mission to benefit children.
Anthony’s Take: I’m all for sustainability and doing what we can to help the environment, but knowing United this is more about publicity, saving a buck, and painting themselves in a good light. We’ll see. Welcome to your new role, Oscar!
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