Jetliner Fuel Usage

The is the start of my work on the airline industry. I’m starting a spreadsheet to setup some example scenarios. Boston-to-La, LA-to-Hawaii, etc. But for now I’m in the “fact-finding” stage and wanted to layout some links to stuff as refernce points.

Video of Byron King sweating $200 oil for the airline industry

Jetliner Fuel Usage Facts

NYT story from May 21st, 2008   (thanks Doom)

excerpts from article:

The Official Airline Guide

Financially strapped airlines are cutting service, and nearly 30 cities across the United States have seen their scheduled service disappear in the last year, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Over the same period, more than 400 airports, in cities large and small, have seen flight cuts. Over all, the number of scheduled flights in the United States dropped 3 percent in May, or 22,900 fewer flights than in May 2007, according to the Official Airline Guide.

And the service cuts are far from over, as jet fuel prices rise, airlines shut down and companies consider mergers, like the Delta-Northwest deal.

The Air Transport Association

“Everybody expects frequent, convenient, high-quality service with great connectivity to the rest of the world,” Mr. Mann said. But given the steep rise in fuel prices, which are up 84.5 percent from a year ago, airlines have to make difficult choices on service.

Fewer passengers are expected to fly this summer, traditionally the peak season for air travel — partly because of the soft economy, of course, but the difficulty of traveling may also be a factor.

The Air Transport Association, an industry trade group, predicts 211.5 million people will fly between June 1 and Aug. 31, down more than 2 million passengers from last year’s record of 213.5 million.

Flights seem to be disappearing by the day.

The Essential Air Service Program

The Essential Air Service program was created in 1978, when the airline industry was deregulated, to ensure that communities in rural and remote areas would be linked to the nation’s air system.

Under the program, the government provides subsidies of about $100 million a year to the airlines, resulting in service to 102 communities.

But the subsidies have not risen fast enough to cover the jump in jet fuel costs, and passengers have resisted paying higher prices for plane tickets, prompting carriers to pull out of a number of cities, including Hagerstown.


The airport offers three flights a day on a nine-seat Cessna to Boston, via Cape Air, as well as three flights a week to North Carolina on Myrtle Beach DirectAir and four weekly flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando on Allegiant, a low-fare carrier.

Plattsburgh had a daily flight to Albany under CommutAir, a commuter carrier linked to Continental Airlines that operated 19-seat aircraft. But CommutAir discontinued service to Plattsburgh last year, before the airport moved to its new location.

Cape Air service is provided under an Essential Air Service contract that gives Cape Air with a subsidy of $650 a flight, or about $73 a passenger for a trip that costs $94 one-way, said Christopher D. Kreig, the airport’s manager.

JetBlue seeks fuel efficiency

Boeing 737

Airbus A320

A320 fuel use

American Cuts US Flights; Airline Stocks Plummet

Lakers/Spurs Could Find Themselves “Grounded” In NBA Playoffs

30 Replies to “Jetliner Fuel Usage”

  1. The 737ER looks quite economical from the stat sheet.
    5375NM (max range fully loaded) /6875USG (max fuel load) = 0.78 NMPG.
    They don’t seem the most popular type at the moment though.
    Another caveat (and I’ll have to defer to your knowledge of US geography) is the distance between common airports.
    I’ll bet that it doesn’t get that economy when only flying 400-500 miles. You’ll need to get the info on time to altitude, make an assumption on throttle setting and go to P&W or RR website and find the SFC for the engines in lbs/lbs thrust/hr and go from there (although jet engines are generally flown on EPR exhaust pressure ratio, not a direct equivalent for thrust).
    Also, don’t forget APU consumption if it does a few flights per day – did you know a 767 APU uses 800gph??
    yes, 800 gallons per hour sitting on the tarmac.

    But then you didn’t think this was going to be easy did you?

  2. The short trips are big time fuel waisters.

    Planes out of Denver, Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City and Albuquerque are way worse.

    Physics is not to kind to planes leaving from DIA here in Denver. Last year I had to fly to California and the plane was too heavy. Guess whose suit case was left in Denver?

  3. Well, if they’re gonna charge $15 per suitcase checked, it better damn well be there when I get there, wherever there is.

  4. JR,

    Kool-Aid Guy, seen carrying what appears to be Kool-Aid Baby, naturally reminded me of the critically maligned, but highly atmospheric, movie “City of Ghosts”.

    Watch the first seven minutes, if you can. Fast forward to around 6:02 to see Gerard Depardieu dish out street justice while simultaneously carrying a toddler. Words probably can’t do it justice.

  5. Hi JR and all,

    I have mixed emotions about this site. It is wonderful (I mean it, and you know it already without me saying it), I have nothing to contribute here so I will keep quiet, and I see that it is draining the energy off of the Kunstler site. I guess this can’t happen over there or it would. Love you all.

  6. MOU, good to see you! (A heavily-sedated BunnBunn sends his regards as well.)

    Just keep your hands above the keyboard, and there will be no need for penance.

  7. I have mixed feelings as well, MOU.

    I look at it as more of a Rest Area on the CFN Highway, with like rides for the kids, a snack area, public restrooms, and an information booth.

  8. Holmes, I have no idea why the Kool-Aid guy reminded you of that, but I’m glad it did.

    I loved the whole ten minutes. I kept thinking I had seen the movie, but I’m not sure. I’m looking it up now and adding it to my Blockbuster list. Natascha McElhone helps. I don’t know why she doesn’t get more/bigger gigs (maybe I’m not the best talent scout, who knows).

    It will be behind Dave’s Diary of a Chambermaid. I’ve gotten sidetracked, The Hottie and the Nottie was released this week. Paris Hilton + $26,000 in total Box Office sales = You know that’s a winner.

    For the record, the Kool-Aid Guy was Yarra’s idea. I’m thinking of making him the official ZuluKilo mascot.

    “There’s no monkey in my hotel.”

  9. So what is it you are doing? Are you going to come up with something like gallons/passenger mile by aircraft type? Just curious.

  10. SAintBif,
    I think JR is trying to get a figure that would be a ‘tipping point’ for airlines wrt fuel prices.

    This fuel thing is gona take ages unless we get info from a pilot – check out all the stuff in this document (good graphs at the end on height/weight/altitude/consumption).
    And, no, I’ve read very little yet….

  12. Doom, I’ve been thinking a bit about that project in the meantime. Southwest has done an interesting adaptation by flying more overnight cargo than before. One of my bosses (not mentioned in SUV rants) got to talking with an SWA pilot recently, who explained that the next-day cargo in the hold basically paid for the whole flight.

    The upshot, I guess, is that any fuel-using business can remain in business if the company can pass on its increased fuel costs and if the business volume remains healthy. The ones we see falling out of the skies these days are the ones that failed at either or both of these things. So perhaps it boils down to asking at what price to people stop going to Hawaii just for scenic vacations? And is there much upside potential for foreign tourists visiting Hawaii to enjoy the low exchange rates?

  13. Nudge, Aloha Airlines air cargo service is still doing business here. It’s the passenger service that folded. As you know, cargo is much moron profitable than hauling people. Here’s an update: now Mesa Airlines, parent company of go!, our low-budget interisland airline that helped Aloha go out of business, is now filing for Chapter 11 creditor protection. If go! goes, then all we will have left is Hawaiian, who just announced they will raise interisland airfares yet again. We are now on the edge of having only one interisland airline. Very scary. FYI, there are currently no passenger ship carriers for Hawaii, and we have just a one-ship ferry company operating from Oahu to Maui and Kauai that is often in the shop for repairs.

    Add to this news the recent articles on belt-tightening at American, Southwest and I’m sure, the other major carriers that service Hawaii, and we seem to be witnessing an accelerating transportation collapse.

  14. “we have just a one-ship ferry company operating from Oahu to Maui and Kauai that is often in the shop for repairs.”

    What! Are you serious? Cape Cod has excellent ferry service to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

    From what I see in the movies, The Northwest (Washington) has steady reliable ferry service to its islands.

    Anybody familiar with Greece knows that the way you get from Athens to the islands (if you are smart) is ferries. Much more fun, too.

    Lat time I was there my sister and her friend met me at the docks. They were coming from Turkey.

    The entire mediterranean is based both on ferries (and short-haul jets).

    What is Hawaii’s problem? Is it because we’re Americans?

  15. “What is Hawaii’s problem? Is it because we’re Americans?”

    That’s most of it, stupid Americans. The rest is the sea state between the islands. Baby, it can be rough out there in the channels, not good for small or poorly-built ships.

    Airline travel has dominated Hawaii interisland passenger and express freight for about 50 years now. We are at the edge of a major change. You, and the rest of us CFN-ZK regulars know this, the vast majority simply do not see it.

    We could make money on this, but it’s a hard business climate with panic and chaos waiting in the wings. Not for the faint of heart. Like doing business in Iraq.

  16. A couple years ago I flew from Newark to Hong Kong. Non-stop. I think it was a 777. Took 16 hours. Out of Newark the flight took a course northwest and up over the North Pole and down the back side across East Asia. Figured I’d make the best of a bad situation and secured a window seat, so I could see the polar region under the midnight sun. Unfortunately the arctic was under cloud cover most of the way, but this didn’t matter as I had taken a sleeping pill (provided with strong recommendation from my sister), and was in a delirious funk. Didn’t sleep much, but endured a drug-enduced half-sleep/trance for a couple hours, where movies and TV shows on the screen in front of me made no sense. Confused and anxious I turned it off. Somewhere over the Arctic they gave us Dim Sum, greasy cheeseburgers and Klondike bars. I began to get irritable, thought of ordering myself a double gin and tonic but decided better not. Everyone around me jabbered in Cantonese, no one spoke English. In the row behind me a kid was throwing up. I got up and walked around, did some stretches. Found an open common area up behind first class. Leaned against the wall and actually slept standing up for about a half hour.

    Within eight or 10 hours the place already had the look of a refugee camp, or Altamont after the Stones left the stage. Back in my seat, the skies had cleared, and I could now see the earth below as we crossed the vastness of eastern Siberia. The sheer extent of northern taiga forests re-assured me there were still great wild and roadless places on the earth. I saw Lake Baikal in the distance (the greatest, and deepest, of all fresh water bodies on the planet!) before we crossed into Mongolia and endless desert. Then on through China, where from 30,000 feet you could plainly see a landscape profoundly changed by a billion people. As we passed over Macau and turned for Hong Kong and I looked forward to the approach into the Kai Tak, one of the most dicey and nail-biting landing experiences in commercial aviation. To my surprise and disappointment we went into a new airport to the south, built on an artificial island. Tai Kak had been closed.

    It had only been 16 hours but it felt like I’d already been gone for days. We all shuffled off the big jet in single file and breathed in the fresh air, passing through a series of check points and security stations. Cameras captured our heat signatures and showed our silhouettes in infra red on huge flat screens. Guards in masks watched us and the screen closely for anyone who might be running a temperature, plucking out for further screening those who may be bringing illnesses that Hong Kong doesn’t need. After claiming my bag and clearing customs I got an extra large cup of green tea and caught a cab to my first meeting.

  17. SB,

    Nice post. Elaborate some descriptive material (like the effect of billions on the land [what did that look like]) and you have something magazine publishable.

  18. St. Bif, that was a great travel story. In the future, kids will gather around Uncle Bif as he recounts the olden days of air travel to far away places in exotic locales. I have a similar story of a BA flight from London to Singapore, and then on to Sydney. By the time we got to Sydney, the 747 looked like a refugee camp, and the toilets on board were all closed as they were totally out of paper and some of water, as well. We were all fried.

  19. I’ve done Memphis to LAX to Sydney, then back. I was brought in as a guest speaker, treated very well. Ditto the wasteland aftermath on the plane and the slightly toxic haze of poorly edited popular movies on my consciousness. I was told to do the sleeping pill thing (even took them with) and I was glad I did not. One plus, wine came with dinner and the attendant was willing to slip me as much as I wanted. They wanted our butts sedated. I was sitting next to an elderly couple who were fighting most of the way. He threw his sweater at her and told her to put it away, she threw it back at him. They went back and forth this way for a couple of minutes before I grabbed the sweater, stood up, and put it in the overhead. I never said a word. I was so pissed because I knew I was in for 14 hours of this 5#!+. I needed the extra wine. On the way back I got all three seats to myself and thought that there might be airline justice gods after all. Perhaps the Gods of flight (Apollo?) want theirs now…

    I need to go to Boston for a meeting. I sound like a weenie here but I am afraid to buy a ticket. The meeting is in August.

  20. Unless you’re planning to take the train or bus MOU, I’d suggest buying the ticket as soon as possible, to lock in the price.

  21. MOU/Doom

    Thanks y’all, glad you liked it.

    A whole row to yourself on an international flight. That’s huge. Probably worth about $15,000. Some would pay even more, or kill.

    It’s Kai Tak by the way (not Tai Kak!!… akk!). It was replaced by the airport at Chek Lap Kok. No, really.

    Someone told me that landing a 747 at Kai Tak in MS Flight Simulator is a rush. OK. Oh well. Rats.

    I know many of you have run the gauntlet too. Travel stories are a dime a dozen. Isn’t that a statement of our times? If I never had to fly again I’d be fine with that, I swear. On the other hand I can’t help but be grateful that I got to go to so many places.

    The era of world travel by jet for the regular folks seems to be rapidly coming to an end. My kids will not know the freedom of travel that I experienced, which is sad, but also I know what I did was ridiculous (at times) and not at all sustainable.

    Anyway, if there’s a certain place you always thought someday you’d go see, it’s looking like you probably better hurry up.

  22. Today I went to a Blue Angels airshow because it occurred to me that jet fuel may become too expensive to continue the circus much longer. It was an incredible display of technology and pilots’ prowess. I really enjoyed though I couldn’t help wondering how much fuel was being wasted for 200,000 people to ooh and aah. Found it wasily enough on FAQ page for Blue Angels

    How much fuel does an F/A-18 Hornet use in a show?
    On the average, one F/A-18 uses approximately 8,000 pounds or 1,300 gallons of JP-5 jet fuel at a cost of roughly $1,378.

    (I guess this dollar figure needs to be recalculated!)

    How much fuel is used over the course of a year, including transportation, training, etc.?
    Over a one-year period, the squadron, including Fat Albert, burns approximately 3.1 million gallons of fuel.

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    have a very good read. Thank you for sharing!

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