Oct 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment

First look: American Airlines' new plan for net-zero emissions

Illustration of condensation trails from a jet being wiped away with a sponge.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

American Airlines is more aggressively leaning into sustainable aviation fuels and research into new propulsion technologies to reach its goal of net-zero emissions in 2050, the company tells Axios.

What’s new: The Fort Worth-based airline gave Axios a first look at new details on how it plans to get to net zero.

Why it matters: Aviation is a growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, and one of the hardest to decarbonize because of the need to develop high-performing engines to run on something other than Jet-A fuel.

Details: The airline's planned reliance on sustainable aviation fuels, which are made from sustainable feedstocks like household solid waste or algae, has increased compared to last year's agenda.

By the numbers: Here's how the airline plans to get to net zero:

  • 39% from sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs).
  • 17% from next-generation planes.
  • 17% from carbon offsets.
  • 15% of emissions cuts would come from buying new, more efficient planes to replace older aircraft.
  • 9% from air traffic control modernization to enable more efficient flight paths.
  • 3% would come from operational efficiency gains.

The bottom line: “The engine makers have really been pushing the barriers and trying to figure out how we can get to 100%” of SAFs in aviation fuel, rather than a 50% blend with traditional aviation fuel, an American Airlines official told Axios.

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Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note that American Airlines is based in Fort Worth (not Dallas).

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