How Much Does Fuel Price Really Affect Airline Ticket Prices?

12 Apr

Lucky for us, Spirit Airlines has taken the liberty of answering this question for us in a handy-dandy, regularly-updated chart:

I just checked Spirit’s website, and a flight to Miami/Ft Lauderdale (~1,500 miles) leaving Friday May 13th from New York at 7:50pm is $79 (+$18.70 in taxes/fees).  According to the above chart, $62.06 of that, or the vast, vast majority (78.5%, pre-tax/fees) of the cost goes just to fuel.  I’ve yet to see anything of this sort from the Majors, but I’m curious what their cost structure looks like; I expect fuel is a far lower % (relatively) than it is for a discount carrier like Spirit.  A flight on the same day to LA, for comparison, is $199 (+$29.40 in taxes/fees), with fuel accounting for ~62% of the pre-tax/fee cost.

It may be an interesting exercize to track Spirit’s #’s over time to see if they change how they pass-on fuel cost changes to passengers.  We’ll check back down the road to check it out.

 

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4 Responses to “How Much Does Fuel Price Really Affect Airline Ticket Prices?”

  1. buzzardsbay April 13, 2011 at 1:56 am #

    I haven’t run an analysis on this stuff yet, but if you’re interested, the gov’t does collect a respectable amount of data from airlines. Running some similar checks on the majors wouldn’t be difficult.

    Have a look at the Form 41 data here – especially Schedule P-12a. and P-5.1:

    http://www.transtats.bts.gov/databases.asp?Mode_ID=1&Mode_Desc=Aviation&Subject_ID2=0

    Bunch of fare analysis here:

    http://ostpxweb.dot.gov/aviation/X-50%20Role_files/consumerairfarereport.htm

    I think you’d find fuel takes the lions share regardless of the model, but you’re definitely right on that you’ll see the LCC’s with a higher proportion.

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