United Airlines plans to buy 100 electric aircraft


United Airlines announced plans Tuesday to purchase 100 electric planes as part of an effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

The airline’s venture fund announced that it, along with Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Mesa Airlines invested in electric aircraft startup Heart Aerospace while conditionally agreeing to purchase 100 of the company’s ES-19 aircraft.

The ES-19 is a 19-seat electric aircraft with the capability of flying customers up to 250 miles before the end of the decade.

“Breakthrough Energy Ventures is the leading voice of investors who are supporting clean-energy technology creation. We share the view that we have to build companies who have real potential to change how industries operate and, in our case, that means investing in companies like Heart Aerospace who are developing a viable electric airliner,” Michael Leskinen, president of United Airlines Ventures, said.

United said that the ES-19 will have “zero operational emissions” by utilizing electric motors instead of jet engines and batteries instead of jet fuel.

Once operational it will also be able to operate on more than 100 of United’s regional routes and out of most of its hubs including Chicago O’Hare International Airport to Purdue University Airport and San Francisco International Airport to Modesto City-County Airport.

The acquisition will also help United in “deepening its bold commitment” to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 100 percent by 2050. Last month, United made its largest aircraft order in its history, ordering 200 Boeing 737 Max 10s and 70 Airbus A321neos.

The airline said the new planes will lead to a 75-percent increase in premium seats on North American routes and a 30-percent increase in available seats on domestic flights and that it expects to hire about 25,000 employees to work on the new planes.


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