The world’s largest airline, American Airlines announced on Monday a “strategic equity investment” in Universal Hydrogen, a company that is building a hydrogen distribution and logistics network for aviation. The transaction values were not disclosed.
The equity investment in Universal Hydrogen is one of the US carrier’s steps to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2035 and, ultimately, its commitment to net zero emissions by 2050.
The new investment makes American the first US airline to make two direct investments focused on the development of hydrogen-electric propulsion technologies and the distribution logistics of the “green” fuel.
Universal Hydrogen’s hydrogen distribution network is betting on the use of modular capsules containing the gas, which are handled as cargo. Because of this, it is not necessary to create a new supply infrastructure at airports and speeds up fuel loading operations.
According to Universal Hydrogen, the distribution network for regional aircraft could be activated as early as 2025. Later, from 2030 onwards, the supply of alternative fuel could be expanded to single-aisle aircraft.
“This technology has the potential to be a game-changer on the industry’s path to zero-emission flight,” said American’s Chief Financial Officer Derek Kerr. “As the world’s largest airline, American has a responsibility to exercise leadership in making sustainable aviation. Our investment in Universal Hydrogen represents a vote of confidence for green hydrogen as a key element of a sustainable future for our industry.”
American joins other company partners such as Airbus Ventures, GE Aviation, Toyota Ventures and ZeroAvia, as well as hydrogen producers and aircraft lessors.
“Together with our investors, we are putting together the end-to-end value chain to make hydrogen aviation a near-term commercial reality,” said Paul Eremenko, co-founder and CEO of Universal Hydrogen. “This move by American is a strong signal that customers want a true zero-emissions solution for passenger aviation and are willing to back tangible, pragmatic steps to get there quickly.”