Greg Schwendinger. Photo: American Airlines
American Airlines and its cargo division is placing its faith in hydrogen and Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) technology development to reach zero-emission operations by 2050.
Hydrogen is a technology very much in the early stages of exploration within the aviation industry, but American Airlines and its cargo division are backing development of the future fuel.
The Fort Worth, Texas-headquartered airline has invested in two hydrogen development companies to diversify and increase its decarbonisation opportunities, says American Airlines Cargo president Greg Schwendinger.
In August last year, American made an investment in UK/US-based hydrogen-electric engine developer ZeroAvia.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed at the same time also provides the airline with the opportunity to order up to 100 zero-emission engines, initially intended to power regional jet aircraft.
And in October last year, American made an equity investment in California-based Universal Hydrogen, which aims to realise hydrogen-powered commercial flights.
“We think that it’s going to take more than just SAF to get to zero emissions,” says Schwendinger.
“Making investments in alternatives to SAF is the way in which we’re trying to diversify our approach towards achieving our goal, which in 2050 is to be carbon neutral.
“With the two hydrogen startups, we’re making strategic investments to make funding available to those who we think have technologies that could be part of our solution.”
American Airlines does not have any freighters and has no plans to, confirms Schwendinger.
All its cargo is carried as belly freight, meaning any green investments on the passenger side of the business, will ultimately benefit the cargo division.