United Airlines announced the launch of United Airlines Ventures, a new venture capital fund aimed at investing in sustainable aviation-focused companies, as well as in revolutionary aerospace developments and innovative technologies that are expected to create value for customers and United’s operation.

United CEO Scott Kirby said:

esg playbook

“Younger companies today have learned from aviation’s rich history and are combining it with more advanced technology and creative thinking to develop new ideas that give us the ability to revolutionize how airlines operate and in turn, the experience customers have when they fly. With United Airlines Ventures, we’re signaling our confidence in these companies and propelling them forward with our expertise and financial support to demonstrate that our commitment to innovation will strengthen our company and improve our customers’ experience more quickly than anyone ever anticipated.”

According to the airline, the new fund will concentrate on sustainability concepts that will complement United’s target of net zero emissions by 2050. United unveiled this sustainability goal in December 2020, and aims to achieve this goal using direct emission reduction measures, rather than through the use of carbon offsets.

Achieving its net zero goal will require substantial investments in emerging technologies, ranging from Direct Air Capture to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Since unveiling its commitment late last year, United has made several announcements aimed at helping the airline improve its emissions profile and to foster a more sustainable aviation industry, including the launch Eco-Skies Alliance, a program aimed at enabling corporate customers the opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of travel beyond purchasing offsets, by paying the additional cost of SAF, and in February, United announced an agreement with electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL) developer Archer to assist in the development of battery-powered, short-haul aircraft. Earlier this month, United announced an agreement to purchase net zero carbon supersonic aircraft from aerospace company Boom Supersonic.

United announced that Michael Leskinen, currently Vice President of Corporate Development and Investor Relations, will assume the role of President of United Airlines Ventures in addition to his current responsibilities.

Leskinen said:

“United has always been a pioneer within the industry and United Airlines Ventures will help us grow companies that are pushing the envelope to make air travel better for our customers, our employees and our planet. We’re making more than a financial commitment to companies within this new portfolio; we’re lending our expertise so that new ideas can really take off.”

Sidley Austin LLP represented United Airlines on the launch of United Airlines Ventures.