United relying on more sustainable fuel. (photo via United Airlines Media)
Airline prices are soaring, and one of the major reasons is the cost of fuel.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, flights have increased 18.6 percent during one month.
United Airlines chief communications officer Josh Earnest noted that the surging price for airfare is a direct result of fuel prices just as Americans were ready to travel again after the pandemic.
“We’re actually going to pay $10 billion – with a ‘B’ – more in fuel costs this year than we did in 2019,” said Earnest on Fox’s America’s Newsroom. “The increase that we have had to absorb is incredible.”
Earnest called for an aggressive fuel policy that would reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.
“One of the ways that we can do that actually is investing in sustainable aviation fuel,” he said on the show.
United has already made a major investment in sustainable fuels, noting that the airline had produced jet fuel made from municipal waste and tested a flight last year.
“In December, United was actually the very first commercial airline to operate a commercial flight with one engine powered 100 percent by sustainable aviation fuel,” he said.
United is looking at other sustainable fuels that could simultaneously curb fuel prices and help the environment.
The airline is hoping to turn the residual bad part of oxygen into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in a partnership with a Houston biotech firm that specializes in carbon dioxide.
Another problem facing the airline industry is a worker shortage, particularly pilots, who Earnest noted can’t just be hired “off the street.”
“There are years of training and experience that somebody has to go through to become a pilot,” he said.
United is addressing this concern through its pilot training academy, which can potentially train 500 pilots per year.
“We’re really excited about it,” he said on America’s Newsroom. “It also gives us an opportunity to diversify the cockpit and open up that career opportunity to people that historically have not had that opportunity.”