Fuel prices have soared to 14-year highs worldwide since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The cost of flying has grown by 18.6% month over month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As a result of the nearly twofold increase in fuel prices in recent months, Americans are now finding it increasingly difficult to afford travel both domestically and abroad.
The carrier is preparing to take further drastic action in 2022 to alleviate the aviation crisis and halt the extraordinary and potentially disastrous surge in airfares.
To that end, it is now pressing the government to end the country’s reliance on foreign oil by encouraging the industry to invest in sustainable aviation fuel.
Ernest advocated an “aggressive policy” to help travelers who have already experienced financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.
To mitigate the economic impact, he said the U.S. should quickly reduce its dependence on Russian oil.
According to a former Obama White House press secretary, the U.S. will spend $10 billion more on fuel this year than the year before the pandemic.
“We’re actually going to pay $10 billion – with a ‘B’ – more in fuel costs this year than we did in 2019,” he said. “The increase that we have had to absorb is incredible.”
This only means that fuel prices need to come down immediately. “One of the ways that we can do that actually is by investing in sustainable fuel,” Earnest implied, citing United Airlines as an example.
In December, they flew the first passenger jet powered exclusively by sustainable fuel, paving the way for other airlines to follow suit.
Using sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels can dramatically lower airfares because airlines would no longer have to rely on the U.S. government to contract with foreign countries to supply the fuel.
United is pushing for bigger changes. It is investing in a company that makes jet fuel from municipal waste and has been testing it since 2021.
Although some passengers are fearful of flying on “experimental” fuel, Earnest has assured them that it is completely safe and works as predicted.
Another major concern is the lack of qualified personnel. With demand greater than the industry’s hiring rate, many airlines have been forced to reduce their summer schedules.
To help reduce this issue, United is training up to 500 new pilots each year.