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Why is flying so expensive?

In my previous articles, I have talked about how Low-cost airlines make their money off of cheap, quick, non-stop flights. That all leads to the question, why do traditional airlines like British Airways and KLM need to make flying so expensive?


If you were to fly from LAX to JFK in New York, the money paid for fuel would only have to be about $10 per person. So, if airlines pay this small amount on fuel, why does it cost you around $245 to fly there (cheapest direct found when using skyscanner.net ) instead of around $20 when you add crew costs? Well, to do that we have to break down how much goes where when paying for a flight.

Credits: airlinegeeks.com

Breaking down the costs

So, now that we’ve added fuel costs, next we have to add crew costs. We would probably have to pay the pilots around $440, and 4 flight attendants $190 each. All that gives us a total of $1,200. A full A321 neo can take a maximum of 220 passengers, so when you divide 1,200 by 220, it adds a total of $5.5 to your price. Now we have a total of $15.5.


Next, the airports need to be paid. JFK charges $6.33 per thousand pounds of weight taking off. Assuming that the plane is full, its maximum take-off weight is 206,000 Pounds. 206 multiplied by 6.33 = 1,303.98. If we divide that number by 220, it adds another $5.9 to our flight. LAX landing fees are $143 per every 12,500 pounds on the aircraft, meaning that we have to add another $10 to every person’s flight. Our total is now $31.4, already higher than a normal Ryanair flight.

Credits: reuters.com

If we were then to add the taxes, it would make us come to around $47. Adding aeroplane costs ($8) Maintenance costs ($9) and an estimated cost which the airline has to pay for its non-flying staff ($10) will bring us up to $77. We then have to add other costs like in-flight food, entertainment services, and staff hospitality which brings us up to a very rough estimate of around $90. The rest is a prophet, seen as airlines having to make their money to pay for other things.


Flying is very expensive. You can look at my other article to see how the low-cost airlines strip flying of the expensive parts.


  • wikipedia.com
  • Wendover Productions on Youtube
  • Google Maps
  • Skyscanner.net
  • faa.gov
  • xe.com
  • usatoday.com (Cover image)

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