July 13 (Reuters) – United Airlines (UAL.O) on Tuesday announced it would purchase 100 19-seat ES-19 electric planes from Swedish start-up Heart Aerospace, as the U.S. carrier considers battery-powered planes for them. regional routes.
This is the latest in a series of “innovation-related” announcements by United as major airlines come under pressure to cut emissions.
The US carrier’s venture capital finance arm said in a statement that it is also investing an undisclosed amount in the company with Breakthrough Energy Ventures of Bill Gates and Mesa Airlines (MESA.O).
United would not disclose the value of the order, which is contingent on the aircraft meeting safety, business and operational requirements.
Mesa would purchase an additional 100 ES-19s, subject to similar requirements, which can carry customers up to 250 miles.
The aircraft will enter service in 2026.
Electric planes can only make short city or commuter trips due to the size and weight of the batteries.
United could use the plane to connect hubs like Chicago O’Hare International Airport to smaller routes. Some of these routes have been cut by old carriers because they are too expensive.
“With a lower cost profile, you can bring in more smaller markets than was possible with the higher cost of a jet,” said Mike Leskinen, president of United Airlines Ventures, in an interview.
He sees the plane, which generates no operational emissions, as a stepping stone to bigger planes.
“We don’t want to wait 50 seats, 75 seats, 125 seats,” Leskinen said. “We want to get involved now by investing in a company that we believe has a great technological advance in the hope of working with them over time to move the size of the plane to a larger jig.”
This year, the carrier also invested and announced an order in electric aircraft company Archer. Read more
United has announced that it will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 100% by 2050.
Report by Allison Lampert in Montreal. Editing by Gerry Doyle
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