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Unit efficiency of large US carriers compared?

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 10:34 pm
by flyboy80
I'm finding some information online, but a lot of it seems out of date, and some of it may not even be accurate. I know there will be several ways to slice this pie, but I'm curious from an efficiency standpoint, how the big six airlines stack up to each other in terms of operating costs? Are costs usually conveyed on a seat mile unit basis, or is there another standardized way?

In terms of all costs combined what are the top five largest costs for most airlines nowadays, and how much of total costs do they typically represent? I would imagine they're Labor, Fuel, Aircraft Acquisition/Leasing, Facilities, and Maintenance? Do airlines consider finance charges as operating costs as well? What about lost revenue due to competitive business decisions, can those justifiably be conveyed as "cost" as well?

Re: Unit efficiency of large US carriers compared?

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:49 pm
by RushmoreAir
MIT maintains the Airline Data Project, which is a database of exactly these types of comparisons (data pulled from annual reports and DOT Form 41, which all major airlines are required to file). It's updated through the end of 2015. Play around with the tabs on the left to see revenue, expense, aircraft, and employee metrics. Seat mile, equivalent seat mile (stage-length adjusted), and block hour (gate-to-gate scheduled time) bases are generally used as the denominator on these types of metrics.

http://web.mit.edu/airlinedata/www/Expe ... lated.html

Historically, direct operating costs (usually includes Crew, Fuel, Maintenance, and Aircraft Ownership) are around two-thirds of airlines' expenses. In 2013 (last year for which I have data sitting in front of me), direct operating costs as defined above were 61.9% of all airline expenses in the U.S. on average. I may be mistaken here, but I believe finance charges and ground facilities are generally not part of aircraft operating costs, nor lost revenue due to competitive action since there's no easy and reliable way to quantify that.

Hope this helps!

Re: Unit efficiency of large US carriers compared?

Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 1:28 am
by BobPatterson
RushmoreAir wrote:
MIT maintains the Airline Data Project, which is a database of exactly these types of comparisons (data pulled from annual reports and DOT Form 41, which all major airlines are required to file). It's updated through the end of 2015.


Thank you for posting the link to this resource, which I didn't know existed. Just the ticket for nerdy evenings!