Innovating Sustainable Air Travel with Jill Blickstein of American Airlines

April 30, 2024

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Jill Blickstein is the Chief Sustainability Officer at American Airlines, where she leads the company’s long-term strategy to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. With her deep experience in corporate responsibility and public policy, Jill works to find solutions to lower the climate impact of air travel. She also manages American’s sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) acquisitions and its surrounding policy discussions, leads sustainability reporting for the company, and works closely with colleagues in procurement to integrate sustainability in American’s supply chains.

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John: Welcome to another edition of The Impact Podcast. I’m John Shegerian. I’m so honored to have with us today, Jill Blickstein. She’s the Chief Sustainability Officer of American Airlines. Welcome Jill to the Impact Podcast.

Jill Blickstein: Hi, John. It’s great to be here.

John: Hey, Jill, before we get going and talking about all the great things in sustainability that you and your colleagues are doing at American Airlines, can you share a little bit about your backstory? Where’d you grow up? How’d you get on this journey, and when did you join American Airlines?

Jill: Absolutely. So let’s see if you want to start at the beginning. So, grew up in Washington DC, moved to New York City about 10 years ago, came to American Airlines about four and a half years ago. And I have a career in public policy, so I worked a lot in financial services, worked for a big bank, worked at Fannie Mae back in the days. I have a background in advocacy and public policy, and then I my career kind of took a little turn with one of the big banks I worked with Inter ESG and communicating, back in those days, we called it corporate sustainability and corporate responsibility. So and then coming to American, I had like an amazing opportunity in two ways. One, to to really dive deep into climate change because airlines and American and our whole industry has a really big climate challenge. And two, I got to actually dive into a company that has a really deep supply chain, and that itself has all kinds of interesting stuff happening when it comes to sustainability.

John: And so when you joined American you came in on the ESG side and that evolved into a chief sustainability role?

Jill: Yes. I’m the first chief Sustainability officer at American. The good news is that I came in and was asked to really start building something, but the good news is that the company had embarked on a big fleet renewal program, so to bring on lots of the new aircraft that are much more fuel efficient than, than the older generation. So if you think about the Max and the Airbus 321neo and taking on Dreamliners, like these are the best aircraft you can buy from a fuel efficiency perspective. So the company had already been on that journey. So saving fuel was part of the company’s DNA. So that’s, that already kind of gave me a foundation, but I was asked to come in and, and really build on that foundation, build up a sustainability program.

John: I always love to start then with the proverbial blank page. You know, you and I know ESG in modern days can be read really broadly or extraordinarily narrowly or somewhere in between. Same thing with sustainability in terms of the linear, the transition from the linear to circular economy and all sorts of other net zero, net positive goals that are out there. Where did you start when you have a blank page in front of you, how do you start building a consensus at such iconic and, and important brand like American Airlines to start building momentum towards bigger, more difficult goals that that would soon follow?

Jill: I think you start with kind of with the assets the company has already had in place. So I mentioned the new aircraft, and then I sort of step back and I look and see what the company has going on. So for example a very good philanthropy program, right? Very good DEI program, really good foundational principles. So for example, my CEO likes to say, you know, we’re building a company to thrive forever. Well, that’s essentially a sustainability ethos and so starting there and then looking at where do we have the biggest challenges in embarking on sustainability as defined broadly?

I think as you said, I think it’s exactly right. So it’s climate change, it’s other environmental impacts, you know, we’re hearing more about biodiversity, we’re hearing more about nature-based, and obviously aircraft airlines have a noise issue, that kind of gets in into the big environmental bucket. And then it’s all the social aspects about how we take care of our team members, how we help bring in a diverse workforce, how we grow and develop our workforce, how we take care of our people over the long term. So we view it as that big bucket of issues when we were building on this great foundation of having taken on the new aircraft.

John, I started at American in the end of November, 2019, so think about what my industry was about to. And so I come in and I think, okay, here we go, we’re going to go build this great big program. And two things happened. Well, we actually you know, obviously COVID started, I think at the end of February of 2020. And then, I had been meeting everybody and really getting to know the company and then boom, I was like, you know, locked in my apart and so the good thing is I had a couple months of actually meeting people and getting to know the company. And then the little team that had existed before I came had been working on the company’s first procurement of sustainable aviation fuel, and this is fuel made from beef tallow, so that’s beef fat collected from across European countries, and we can talk more about SAF later, but this was a contract from 9 million gallons of SAF over three years, and at the time, it was the largest SAF contract ever by any airline.

We got that contract signed, I think in mid-February, and then the world changed. And I have to give my leadership lots of credit, that was an expensive contract, and they just stood by it and they said, yep, we’re going to do this. It’s okay. As we obviously immediately went to cut costs and so we went into this. But you know, you ask about bringing people on board, and I sort of think about the kind of the chaos, not chaos is maybe not the right word. We were taking the airline down. Nobody had ever taken an airline down, and then we brought it back up. No one had ever really done that before.

So everybody was confronted, everybody really felt that everybody’s job was thrown up in the air. And like everyone was being asked to do all kinds of new things. At the same time, so we, American is a member of the Oneworld Alliance, and so we’re in that with BA and Iberia and Finnair and, Cathay and Japan Airlines and lots of other fantastic airlines. At the time, the climate change and sustainability leaders of all those airlines had been talking about Oneworld making a net-zero 2050 commitment. So picture this, I’m brand new in the job, the company is now being shut down.

I’m locked in my apartment where I’m like opening my window to, you know, remember when we were clapping for first responders, its like the world has completely changed, right and I’m the last holdout. And I’m thinking, how am I going to go to my people and say, and what I finally came to understand even as I was thinking to myself, we can’t quickly commit to 2050 net zero, we don’t have any SAF, we don’t have new propulsion. We can’t straighten out air traffic control and may and have it adopt new technologies immediately. I’m looking at this in the far away, and finally I was convinced, and I have come to believe that we are all going to be in this together. Our aviation is going to have to rely on lots of other partners and other parties like governments and OEMs like Boeing and Airbus and field providers and everybody. And you set that goal to tell everybody, everybody’s going to have to come to, we going to do this together.

John: That’s wonderful.

Jill: And that argument worked internally, and we were the first airline alliance to commit to net zero by 2050.

John: That’s wonderful. And for our listeners and viewers who’ve just joined us, we’ve got Jill Blickstein with us today. She’s a Chief Sustainability Officer at American Airlines to find Jill and her colleagues and all the important work they’re doing in sustainability and ESG, please go to I should have asked this earlier, Jill, how big is American Airlines in terms of real estate and in terms of employees approximately, give or take, Matt Macro[?]

Jill: American Airlines is about 140,000 people. There’s different ways to measure how big an airline is, whether you measure in available seat miles or whatever. We are among the biggest, if not the biggest airline in the world.

John: Of course. And I fly all the time.

Jill: Important for this conversation, John, in 2019, we used four and a half billion gallons of jet fuel.

John: So now you make this commitment to you join the Oneworld Alliance. It’s now the whole alliance is on board for 2005 net zero, and you also have this standing order for this new sustainable aviation fuel and it’s March 20th or so, and the world has come to an end. You’re cracking the windows in Manhattan, [augh] and you’re managing all this new program. I mean, what a scene, what a scene. So talk a little bit about now all the airlines go offline and now talk about the comeback. How does the comeback work and how does the testing of the sustainable aviation fuel go? Like, how does that really go? And when does that actually happen now?

Jill: Let’s talk about sustainable aviation fuel, which we call SAF by the way. So industry insider, we call it SAF. Some people call it SAFs well, I don’t do that. I just call it SAF.

John: Got it.

Jill: There’s lots of different kinds of SAF. The SAF that’s being made today is made from waste oils and fats, so think used cooking oil. Also, by the way, fun acronym, we call it UCO, this could be cooking oil waste, fats and Oils. The SAF that we’re taking from a company called Neste is made from beef tallow, which as I said, where it’s collected from European countries. It’s first refined in Finland. It’s then shipped to Houston and goes through more refining and then shipped up to the port of San Francisco where it’s blended. SAF today has to be blended 50 50 with petroleum jet fuel.

And this is like, the totally magical part is that when SAF is blended with petroleum jet fuel, it then meets the international technical standards for Jet A. It is molecularly Jet A. And so, I don’t know if you know this, but lots of the big airports in the United States are funded by common tanks. So every airline is shipping its fuel into an airport like LA or San Francisco, or actually all the big hubs like Miami, Chicago, New York, et cetera. There is a common tank underneath the airport. We call it a fuel farm. And the fuel farm itself is managed by a consortium of airlines.

And so I buy fuel, I put it into the common tank. I take that same amount of fuel out. Obviously, I’m not taking out the exact molecules that I put in. But the idea that I could take, so we’re taking SAF, blended SAF, and we’re putting it into the common tank at San Francisco and then we take it out and the concept is called mass balance, like I claim I’m taking out SAF and using SAF because I put SAF into the common tank.

John: Now, I never heard that before in terms of common tanks. Of course, I’m not an aviation expert. So how does that work if you’ve now stepped out and said, we’re going to use SAF and we’re buying this many gallons of it, and we’re going to be using it, you know, X amount in our aircraft, don’t you have to get the others to go along with that as well to create a net balance that makes sense and you got to get them on board?

Jill: Well, that’s what the fuel farm itself does. What’s really interesting about SAF and the fact that it is, once it’s blended, that because it’s technically really jet fuel, we don’t have to make any changes to the aircraft, we did have to make any change to the fueling system. There’s no change to how the fuel flows from the wing to the engine. t’s just jet fuel. And so as you said, it’s sort of as you, I think where your question was going, it’s really a paper exercise to say, I put in 10 gallons, I’m taking out 10 gallons, and I get credit for the set. So if you’ve flown out of San Francisco or LA I think in the last five or six years you’ve been flying on a little bit of SAF.

John: That’s great. So what percentage now of SAF is being used, and how do you see that scaling over the years to come?

Jill: Well, this is the money question. So it’s less than 1% today. It’s a tiny, tiny, tiny amount. I think US airlines use around 20 billion gallons of jet fuel and maybe there’s 10 or 15 million gallons of jet fuel, maybe 20 million gallons. I mean, that’s the scale, we’re talking millions to billions. Congress did something really important in the IRA, the Inflation Reduction Act and they passed the first ever SAF lenders tax credit, the first tax credit ever created specifically for SAF, which is wonderful,

John: Wonderful.

Jill: Amazing. but it’s short-lived. And so we’re not necessarily, we’re not yet seeing the investment flows into building SAF plans that we’d like, that everyone would like to see. Because people are waiting to see if the tax credit will be extended and if it will be enlarged. And it’s still, I don’t know if you’ve heard of something called renewable diesel. So in California and states that have incentives, you can buy renewable diesel versus fossil diesel, that uses the same feed stocks as SAF. So it also uses waste oils and fats, use cooking oil. All of that is the same feedstock for a renewable diesel and that’s just much more profitable to make today than SAF is.

John: Let’s just talk about a little bit about the challenges. One, it’s still coming from Europe, the SAF, mostly it’s European derived?

Jill: Maybe half and half Europe and half and the other half is probably California. There’s only a couple companies really making SAF today.

John: Understood. So we there’s a supply issue, then I take it, we need more supply. Also in terms of regular jet fuel versus SAF, is SAF that much more expensive than regular jet fuel today?

Jill: Well, at least twice as expensive.

John: Again, so supply should help fix that issue as well. So that’s what we’re talking about. We’re talking about a, a demand that’s amazingly huge and a supply that’s still massively short, and technology and scalability of getting that up. So this whole thing balances out. We get a mass balance. So eventually demand is here, cost is here, and we’re able to really get all those 15 or 20 billion gallons into SAF.

Jill: The Biden administration launched something called the SAF Grant Challenge, and that’s exactly what they want to do. They got together, the agencies, they got together agriculture, energy and transportation to work on this to create 3 billion gallons of SAF by 2030 and I think 35 billion gallons by 2050. The idea of fueling the whole US commercial aviation industry. We would need a lot of acceleration, a lot of innovation to get there and so that’s why American, we joined something called Breakthrough Energy Catalyst.

So we’re looking at this and we’re trying to figure out, like aviation is not a super high margin business. We don’t have super deed pockets. We’re not financial services, for example. And so what can we do to try to accelerate that market to grow set, excuse me. And breakthrough Catalyst is part of the Bill Gates family of companies that’s called Breakthrough Energy and that whole effort is aimed at speeding up the innovation of new clean energy technologies.

They formed Catalyst, the idea is to provide low cost project finance capital to the companies that have the potential to scale these new technologies more quickly. And so we committed to invest in the fund, and we committed to do offtake as well as SAF. And we just recently, I think it was in December, or maybe it was like, maybe it was November, we signed a contract for Offtake with a company called Infinium. There are going to be a couple different generations of SAF. We’re going to start using waste oils, and we’re going to probably move to ethanol or second generation ethanol. Then maybe we’ll be able to take municipal solid waste and make SAF out of that, which would be incredible.

John: That’s huge.

Jill: And then Infinium is what’s called a power to liquid process where they take waste CO2, like let’s say from a natural gas plant, and they use green electricity with a catalyst, and they can actually make jet fuel out of that, which is almost like zero emissions jet fuel.

John: That’s amazing.

Jill: And so we just signed an offtake agreement, and Catalyst is going to invest to build the plan. And that’s the SAF of the future and we’re investing in it now because we know it’s going to take 10, 15 years to bring that scale.

John: Where’s that plan going to be?

Jill: in West Texa.?

John: You know, when I was preparing for this, and I believe, you know, I’m 61 now, Jill, so I sometimes I forget a little bit and it’s no it’s no demeaning any other great brands, but you are the first major airline we’ve ever had on the show in all these years, 17 years of doing this show. So it’s such an honor to have you. But first time ever, I was faced with the word contrails and I had to learn what contrails mean. Can you explain what contrails are and why the goal is to help airlines and especially your airline from contrails avoidance. First of all, what is a contrail and why are we trying to avoid contrails?

Jill: Thank you for the question. What is a contrail, if you look up in the sky, I’m looking out my window right now. I can see a couple of contrails. So aircraft at a certain altitude and humidity in what’s called, they call it an ice super saturated region. So I just call it humidity and temperature at the right combination of that, at the right altitude, a plane will make a contrails, which is just that thin cloud that you see in the sky.

Let me just put this in context for, again, I want to talk about, you know, I mentioned that American uses about 4 billion gallons of jet fuel. We’re held accountable for that in the sense that we have to report our emissions. We are a signatory on the science-based targets initiative, we have a goal, we’re tracking to meet that goal because everyone knows CO2 is warming. There is an emerging consensus that contrails are also, and let’s just kind of break this down a little bit. Contrails are thin, the thin clouds they tend to be thin and long. Under some atmosphere conditions, they will persist.

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So you could create a contrail and then if it’s the conditions are right, it will just kind of spread out and remain in the sky for hours. Some contrails will dissipate almost immediately. There is an emerging consensus that on net contrails are warming, and it is those persistent contrails, the ones that are formed in the afternoon and the night that are the most warming. And let’s just talk about time of day for a second. In the daytime, a contrails will block the sun’s rays.

So a contrail could be slightly cooling, but in the afternoon and nighttime, when the contrail is formed, it is blocking the heat’s earth from escaping the atmosphere, nd those two effects are not even. I guess to think about it, the contrail formed during the day,it’s not blocking all of the sun’s rays, but when it’s formed at night, it is capturing lots of the earth’s heat from escaping. So that’s how you end up with that net effect. It’s also seasonal.

We see many more contrails and we did a test. So I actually watched this happen every week. We picked a set of flights to try to avoid creating a contrail. We had lots of options in January, February, March, we got to June, like we had no contrails to avoid, that to be very difficult. It’s not so much a summertime thing, although they can’t occur then. I guess two major ways to avoid creating a contrails. One is you can change your altitude. I mentioned that contrails are thin. And so planes, which are normally flying at max altitude, a plane is only certified to fly to a certain altitude,

John: 36,000 or so?

Jill: Something like that. And so you could drop, let’s say, two or 3000 feet, a small drop and avoid creating a contrail. You do though burn more jet fuel. So we immediately run into a CO2 contrail conundrum.

John: Cost Benefit analysis. Got it.

Jill: Exactly. The other way to avoid creating a contrail is to burn SAF, because SAF is just a cleaner fuel, doesn’t have all the soot. I guess I should add a more advanced engine also produces less water paper. So you might have less contrails than that. But we don’t have anywhere near enough SAF to try to avoid contrasts that way. So we are now focused on the altitude adjust

John: And how’s that going? How long will that take? And are you one of many airlines focused on that issue so we can make a huge impact on the global warming issue?

Jill: Well, that’s such a brilliant question because it really will take all the airlines working together. Lots of airlines we’re thinking about this. We, at American, we did the first ever test that had statistically significant results in doing contrails avoidance. So we worked with Google Research and Breakthrough Energy, which I mentioned earlier, but Breakthrough also has a contrail shop. They each had contrail prediction models, and we would get together every week, every Wednesday, and we had recruited a bunch of pilots, a set of technical pilots with lots of experience.

We would look at the forecast, we would figure out how that matched up with where American flights. Those pilots would elect it to fly those flights, we would flip a coin and they would do an avoidance strategy on one leg and run the regular flight plan on another leg. Obviously working in close coordination with the FAA as well. We were able to just to avoid a statistically significant amount of contrails miles we call them by using these predictions. But as you said, you know, everyone’s going to have to do it. There’s no point in one airline avoiding a contrail, if everybody else is just going to fly over and create it. Although that’s one of the questions that science has to answer is, how bad is that second contrail and the third and the fourth and the fifth? So we have a lot more work to do.

John: So let’s go. This is an interesting part of what I do, but I also have found common themes by interviewing so many wonderful and brilliant people like you who do what you do for a living, the important and impactful work. Two things that I’ve come to learn over the years is, one, you belong now to a wonderful fraternity of men and women who do the work that you do. So let’s talk to micro and then let’s talk to macro. So on a micro basis in terms of chief sustainability officers at airlines, both US based and worldwide based, is it a fraternity that’s constantly inspiring each other and sharing best practices like that that trial that you ran on contrail avoidance?

Jill: It’s one of the best parts of my job, is that there is this small community of CSOs at the airlines, and we’re all really good friends.

John: That’s awesome.

Jill: I mean, it’s so cool. When I first joined, I don’t think it really existed. And then I will give total credit to Amelia DeLuca at Delta Airlines. She joined, and came from within Delta, and she was a new CSO. And she immediately, just by force of personality, started bringing everyone together.

John: That’s so great.

Jill: Now we’re all really good friends. Like, we call and consult each other. You know, we work both within our trade association and then, you know, we’ve tried to do things together. Like sustainability is still competitive among the airlines, everybody wants to be the first, everybody wants to be the best. But there’s lots of policy challenges, and contrails, I think, is one area where we can work together. So, for example, we did our test. I immediately turned around and started briefing other airlines and saying, please come with us. Please do this next test with us. Let’s try to do this together, both within the US and outside the US as well.

John: Is the fraternity still as cool outside of the US and as close and as warm?

Jill: It is. Well, I certainly find it within my Oneworld colleagues. So we have our own little sustainability thing, because we’re already partners. And it turns out like, and I mean, I have something to learn from every other airline and so that’s what makes it so amazing. But certainly with Oneworld, and then we have a a global trade association called IATA. I’m not going to pretend that I know exactly what that stands for, but we have a group that meets and we’ve become close because we understand each other’s challenges. And to the extent anybody can figure out how to get something right. I want to be able to do that too.

John: But also, let’s go back to what you just said, of course, it’s highly competitive. Like every industry’s highly competitive. But at at least that, like you said, at some point, we all put down the competition because we realize the work that you’re doing and the other CSOs that other great airlines are doing as well, it’s not a zero sum game in that if you all get on board with best practices or trials that you’re running, that are working in other airlines or trial that are doing different trials in different sectors as well, the world’s going to become a better and more sustainable place anyway. And everybody wins. And that’s what the passengers, and that’s what the citizens and the constituents of your airlines and have Delta and all the other wonderful airlines all really want at the end of the day. Anyway. Isn’t that sort of true?

Jill: That’s sort of true. You know, in aviation, we’re really lucky that safety is not a competitive issue. And we say over and over and over again. Sustainability is much more competitive than safety unfortunately.

John: Interesting.

Jill: You know, I think in the dead of night early on in this job, I would wake up in the middle of the night and think, what happens when customers believe that another airline is more sustainable than American? Do they choose those flights, that’s the competitive bit. Good point. But on lots of it, I think increasingly certainly on all the policy we, I mean, I sort of watch us, like we were, we were just in a big meeting on contrails, and I’m looking around the room and I can see all the airlines are like, really have the same point of view and we’re educating each other. You know, United just did an eco demonstrator test with Boeing. And so that’s interesting to learn about. I think Southwest is about to embark on another academic study. Delta’s working with a big research institution, and they’re going to be learning stuff. So I think it’s going to be great to hear what all the different colleagues are learning because then we can all be more effective together.

John: Let’s talk about the macro fraternity outside of the airlines themselves and the Oneworld Alliance itself, how much do you find the other great members of the CSO community outside of the airline industry to be both inspirational and aspirational? How much do you lean on them for also new and fresh thinking?

Jill: That’s a little bit harder. I think we spent and I’ve noticed this about aviation, we tend to be very aviation focused. We’re sitting in hard to obey. We’re the ones who really cannot reduce our emissions today. So it’s a little hard for me to talk to the people who are out there spending hundreds of millions of dollars on direct air capture, because they can. I mean, look, I’m a little jealous, right there are these sectors, like the tech sector that is going to negative emissions.

I don’t know when aviation will get to negative in sector. I think that at 2050, we will not have been able to get rid of all the emissions in our operation. We will be buying carbon offsets, carbon removals to compensate for that last mile of emissions, those residual emissions. There’s lots of industries out there Right. That are really worried about because they burn a lot of electricity, let’s say, will they have options. I don’t have an option to jet fuel today.

John: Like you said, you’re grinding it out. You’re basically a retailer in the sky seat by seat. You’re filling them up and you’re, and you’re trying to give us all the great experience. Whereas they’ve got a SaaS model, they go to bed, they’re making money in the middle of the night, just replicating, you know, wash, rinse, repeat. And then, and, you know it’s, it’s a whole different, like you said, it’s a little bit of an unfair advantage and it’s a whole different industry.

Jill: And I should say, I don’t, I don’t mean to be un ungrateful. I think a lot of them have been helpful to us and recognize the challenges that we have.

John: Understood.

Jill: So there’s this new market we created. It’s called the SAF Certificate. So what we want to do is we want to sell the emissions reductions. When we use SAF, we get a scope 1 reduction, and there’s an emerging field that is going to allow us to sell what’s called the scope 3 reduction. Scope 3 is your indirect emissions. And I called our friends at Deloitte once, a couple of years ago, and I said, I invite you to do something pioneering with me.

Would you be my first customer of this new product and they thought about it and they said, yes. Didn’t have to do this. It took a lot of work, coming up with the first contract, getting everyone’s arms around what this was going to be, how they were going to use it, how they were going to account for it. And they went on that journey with us. So there are some really amazing companies and leaders out there who were very helpful.

John: We went and hit some of the really more challenging and difficult issues upfront in terms of SAF and scaling SAF to get it to where it needs to be in 10 or 20 years. Jill, talk a little bit about what else will aviation need to reach net zero? What are some other opportunities and challenges that you face that you’re looking at that are going to be somewhat more achievable and faster to get to where you want before the SAF one is?

Jill: Well, the other things are harder than SAF. SAF in context, is the easier one all.

John: Okay, I got it wrong. That’s crazy.

Jill: So for example, hydrogen propulsion, like, can we use a hydrogen fuel cell to power an aircraft? And maybe it’s hydrogen and well, the hydrogen fuel cell will produce the electricity. Maybe it could be a hybrid of liquid jet fuel and hydrogen. Maybe it will only be hydrogen. Maybe it will be another form of electric. But new propulsion is really is American has invested in two companies ZeroAvia and Universal Hydrogen. ZeroAvia is workig, to build the fuel cell and build a powertrain for at first a smaller regional aircraft and then getting larger in size. Universal hydrogen is focused on what’s going to be that new infrastructure for delivery of hydrogen fuel to an airport.

We have this really built out effective and efficient delivery infrastructure of getting liquid jet fuel to an airport. We refinery and a pipeline system and fuel generally gets where it needs to be. We’re not going to rebuild all of that, that costs tens of billions, if not of dollars, if not more. So universal hydrogen is working on a modular system of getting hydrogen to an airport, which, you know, will help us hopefully get to hydrogen more quickly. Airbus has made a big bet on hydrogen. They have a whole program, I think it’s called ZEROe, working to get to a hydrogen narrow body. But everybody will start small, start with the regional aircraft. We may see the the turboprops come back, you know, the turboprop itself, which the new version of the turboprop is is quieter and and it is much more fuel efficient than a regional jet at the same size not using the turbo.

John: No kidding.

Jill: So I think it will be propulsion. I will say that when I started, lots of the people I talked to were scoffing at the idea of hydrogen and I don’t hear the scoffing anymore. I think even in these few short years, I feel like there has been an acceleration in interest. And frankly, the companies that are trying it out are, they’re making progress.

John: Jill American was named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World index, the DJSI. Besides that amazing and great achievement during the last four and a half years of your tenure, what else are you particularly proud of?

Jill: I’m really proud of the deal we did with Infinium and the idea that American was able to, to trigger investment in what will be the really, the first PTL plant in the United States. I am very proud. We put out a leading sustainability report. We embrace TCFD, which is the, called the task force on climate related financial disclosures. We embrace that kind of disclosure. And so when we talk to our investors, they look at our reporting and our disclosures, and they get to ask us the next level questions because we’re already doing everything that they expect.

Essentially. we just signed a contract with a company called Graphite. And I really love this, I really love this project. So Graphite is going to do carbon removal in a new way. They call it engineered carbon removal. It’s not building the big fans out in the desert that are going to suck carbon out of the air. They are taking woody biomass, they are dehydrating it and forming it into blocks, and they are going to encase it in a polymer and bury it underground. And then they’re going to monitor it and that is a verified carbon removal that can be monitored and tracked, and you can make sure it’s going to work. Now, look, I’m a fan of all the carbon offsets.

I know that the world of carbon offsets is under a lot of pressure these days, you know, people don’t know if a carbon offset project is real, the verifies are under a lot of pressure. We will be buying carbon offsets, like I’m absolutely sure of that. But in this case, we saw an opportunity to support a really interesting more affordable, scalable, permanent carbon removal that does not cost a billion dollars to build.

John: That’s wonderful. And the ESG report is on your lives, on your website. You put it out. What time every year do you put out the ESG or sustainability impact report?

Jill: I always aim for late June, and it’s always early July.

John: That’s great. And they live in perpetuity up on the part of your website?

Jill: I do, yeah. We created that website to give all of the investors in the environmental community and anybody who really wants to learn more about America, to have one place to go where they could learn everything about the ESG energy.

John: Jill, thank you for being the first today. Thank you and your colleagues for all the important work at American Airlines that you’re doing at ESG and sustainability. Thanks for joining us on the Impact today and giving us an hour of your time or so. We’re very grateful. This is really important and tremendous stuff that you’re doing and very impactful stuff. For our listeners and viewers to find Jill and all of our colleagues at American Airlines and see all the great work they’re doing in sustainability and ESG, please go to Jill Blickstein, you are a sustainability rockstar and thank you for making the world a better place.

Jill: Thank you, John.

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