COC and DOC Part III

Today I discovered a very interesting website: The "Airline Data Project" from MIT.
There is a lot of airline data from all major american airlines in that database. From that data you can easily pull DOC and COC's and compare airline to airline, a specific airline though the years or whatever you want to find out.
Let us have a look at two typical carriers:
  • American Airlines as the typical legacy carrier
  • Southwest Airlines as the typical low cost carrier
I looked at two years - the first available (1995) and the one with the highest fuel prices (2008).
In 1995 the price for aircraft fuel was relatively stable at about $0.50 per gallon - unbelievably low for us today.
Im early 2008 the price already was in the region of $2.70, then climbing to almost $4.50 in July before falling rapidly to a low of about $1.00 in December 2008.

Here is the chart for American Airlines in 1995.
The cost for fuel and oil is $429 per block hour - 26% of the total cost.

We get a whole different picture for the year 2008.
Now American Airlines has to pay $2771 per block hour for fuel - a stunning 60% of the total, although the amount of fuel consumed per block hour went down from 957 to 940 gallons. This only slight decline in fuel burn shows why American now accelerated their B737-800 deliveries in the last two years. The MD-80 is fuel thirsty.

And now here is Southwest Airlines. The trend is the same:

In 1995 fuel cost were at 30% of direct operating costs. But the dollar value is about 13% less than the $492 paid by AA, as Southwest just burned 773 gallons per block hour and the total costs per flight hour were 14% lower at SWA.

And here are the SWA numbers for 2008:
 Fuel and oil costs are above 50%, but total costs are less than 60% of the costs of AA. Fuel burn per block hour was down by 9% compared to 1995 at 705 gallons, the rest of the difference is probably explainable by better fuel hedging at SWA.

I think from these charts we can understand the desire from many airlines to get more fuel efficient aircraft as soon as possible.