The United Eco-Skies Raptor Relocation Program, which the airline plans to launch at Newark Liberty International Airport later this month, will protect at-risk and threatened species such as the American kestrel by transporting the raptors to golf courses certified within the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program. As the official airline of the PGA TOUR®, United is uniquely positioned to help identify suitable golf course habitats with Audubon International for relocation purposes and help inform the public on the importance of environmental sustainability.
Additionally, United and Audubon International will work closely with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which partners with other agencies to safely capture threatened birds at New York-area airports.
"Audubon International is excited to be working with United Airlines' Eco-Skies program on the Raptor Relocation Program," said Christine Kane, Audubon International's executive director. "Thousands of golf courses across the world have adopted environmentally sustainable property management practices that support wildlife habitat through our Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program. Bringing this all together to provide safe, high-quality habitat for raptors is a great success."
"The presence of wildlife at our airports can pose a challenge to pilots operating commercial aircraft," said Laura Francoeur, the Port Authority's chief wildlife biologist. "The agency implements wildlife management measures to reduce these challenges, and we continue to work with our airline partners and organizations such as United and Audubon International to ensure safe operations while protecting nature."
"Together with our partners at Audubon International and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, we are developing innovative ways to protect our environment and provide sanctuary for birds-of-prey that otherwise would be living near New York-area airports," said Angela Foster-Rice, United's managing director of environmental affairs and sustainability. "The Raptor Relocation Program will help minimize risk to wildlife, reduce damage to aircraft and enable us to operate more efficiently within some of the world's busiest airspace."
United's Eco-Skies program represents the company's commitment to the environment and the actions taken every day to create a sustainable future. In January, Air Transport World (ATW) magazine named United the Eco-Airline of the Year for the second time since the airline launched the Eco-Skies program.
In 2016, United made history by becoming the first U.S. airline to begin use of commercial-scale volumes of sustainable aviation biofuel for regularly scheduled flights out of its hub in Los Angeles. The airline also invested $30 million in U.S.-based alternative aviation fuels developer Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc., which represented the single largest investment by any airline globally in alternative fuels. Last year, United became first U.S. airline to repurpose items from the carrier's international premium cabin amenity kits by partnering with Clean the World to donate hygiene products to those in critical need.
Additionally, as part of United's commitment to operating an environmentally friendly and responsible airline, the carrier added a carbon footprint measurement to its 2017 Global Performance Commitment. United is committing to achieving a lower gross carbon footprint than its two largest U.S.-based competitors this year, as measured by carbon dioxide-equivalent per available seat-mile.