Data & Statistics

U.S. Passenger Carrier Delay Costs

Jul 12, 2022

In 2021, the average cost of aircraft block (taxi plus airborne) time for U.S. passenger airlines was $80.52 per minute. Labor expense, the largest line item, rose 14.5 percent from 2019 levels to $28.14 per minute. Fuel costs, the second largest line item, declined 11 percent to $22.50 per minute. Maintenance and aircraft ownership respectively grew 23 percent and 26 percent, while all other costs rose 5 percent.

Calendar Year 2021 Direct Aircraft Operating Cost per Block Minute ∆% vs. 2019
Crew – Pilots/Flight Attendants $28.14 14.5
Fuel 22.50 -10.9
Maintenance 14.84 23.1
Aircraft Ownership 12.06 25.8
Other 2.99 5.0
Total Direct Operating Costs $80.52 8.4

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 $47 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.

Implications

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.

* FAA-recommended value: https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/policy_guidance/benefit_cost/media/econ-value-section-1-tx-time.pdf

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