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U.S. Passenger Carrier Delay Costs

In 2018, the average cost of aircraft block (taxi plus airborne) time for U.S. passenger airlines was $74.20 per minute, 9 percent more than in 2017. Fuel costs, the largest line item, rose 27 percent to $27.01 per minute. Crew costs, the second largest line item, rose 3 percent to $23.35 per minute. Maintenance and aircraft ownership actually declined year over year (-5% and -1%, respectively) and all other costs rose 1 percent.


Calendar Year 2018 Direct Aircraft Operating Cost per Block Minute ∆% vs. 2017
Fuel $27.01 27.5
Crew – Pilots/Flight Attendants 23.35 3.4
Maintenance 11.76 -4.6
Aircraft Ownership 9.28 -0.8
Other 2.80 1.3
Total Direct Operating Costs $74.20 8.8

Note: costs based on DOT Form 41 data for U.S. scheduled passenger airlines


Additional Costs

Delayed aircraft are estimated to have cost the airlines several billion dollars in additional expense. Delays also drive the need for extra gates and ground personnel and impose costs on airline customers (including shippers) in the form of lost productivity, wages and goodwill.

Assuming $49 per hour* as the average value of a passenger’s time, flight delays are estimated to have cost air travelers billions of dollars. FAA/Nextor estimated the annual costs of delays (direct cost to airlines and passengers, lost demand, and indirect costs)  in 2018 to be $28 billion.



ATC delays, especially enroute delays, prevail in many parts of the national airspace system. Moreover, our airport and airway infrastructure can not be scaled to meet future demand as anticipated in the FAA aerospace forecasts . In addition to new runways, the deployment of modern ATC technologies and changes to operational procedures are critical to the nation’s air system and the economy.


* derived from FAA-recommended values as adjusted using BLS employment cost index.

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