United Enhances MileagePlus Carbon Offset Program for Earth Month

By Daniel Berg on 15 April 2014
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A United Airlines jet landing at JFK

A United Airlines jet landing at JFK

United Airlines announced an expansion of its carbon-offset program.  The service offers environmentally conscious customers the option to purchase offsets for both commercial flights and freight shipments. The enhancement is an expansion of the company’s existing offset calculator program, which was developed last year with Sustainable Travel International, an NGO specializing in sustainable tourism.

The enhancement rollout, released for Earth Month, allows United MileagePlus members to redeem miles for offsets to cover carbon emissions linked with air travel and is the first program of its type offered by a U.S. carrier.  MileagePlus customers can select from a list of United Eco-Skies partners when redeeming miles with the offset program, including STI initiatives focused on renewable energy, forest conservation, and deforestation in the United States and abroad.

United said it reduced fuel consumption by more than 95 million gallons and CO2 emissions by more than 925,000 metric tons in 2013. The Chicago-based airline has improved its fuel efficiency by 33% since 1994 and has implemented a variety of recycling programs, reprocessing 23.5 million pounds of aluminum, paper, and plastic since 2006.

United’s efforts include being the first airline to embrace split scimitar winglet technology, which significantly reduces fuel consumption, and embarking on a fleet renewal project with orders for more fuel-efficient Boeing and Airbus aircraft. The new planes, some of which are already in the fleet, are 15% to 20% more efficient than older models.

The company is also active in studying the use of biofuel and has partnered with AltAirFuels, a producer of sustainable aviation biofuel, to implement renewable jet fuel at its Los Angeles hub later this year.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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