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February 21, 2024


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The term “Use Enough Gun” is the title of a book about hunting.  Rather than big game, airlines are on the hunt for passenger traffic.  Like a hunter, it is essential to use the right tool.  This post is about finding the right aircraft caliber. Too many airplane brings financial risk, and the opposite leaves valuable revenue behind.

This post is another (the third) in our series of discovering insights from the I-92 dataset.

The data allow us to calculate the average load for flights departing the US for overseas destinations.  We want to discover what the traffic flow looks like by typical aircraft seating.  We broke traffic volumes into average passengers/flight.  Then, we used colors to differentiate between single-aisles, single-aisle MoM, and widebodies.

Blue is the color for single aisles with seating up to 175.  Green is for MoM with 175 up to 231 seats, and orange is for widebodies.  The table below lists all the monthly overseas traffic with average passengers/ flight for the top 25 airports.

I 92 AirInsight

Several markets appear optimal for single-aisle aircraft but are far more than 3,000 miles away.  These flights were served by larger aircraft at suboptimal efficiencies.

It is interesting to see how much blue there is for the top 25 airports.  Equally surprising is the amount of green.  Some markets offer optimal loads for MoM aircraft—for example, Heathrow (LHR).  Tokyo (HND), Incheon (ICN), and several other airports need larger aircraft because of the range requirement.

We see the following if we break down the data into hubs vs non-hubs.

We are starting with US hub departures.  Using the same rule about range requirements, we still see several markets that could be served with smaller aircraft.   Seasonality plays a role in some markets, and one must remember the early period was the post-pandemic travel recovery.  But, for example, Dublin (DUB) looks like a MoM market. London (LHR) is also a market that might see smaller aircraft rather than the amount to capacity in widebodies.  Madrid (MAD) and Munich (MUC) also look like candidates for MoM-sized aircraft.  Here, the range requirement from US East Coast airports would be a stretch and probably require A321XLRs.

I 92 AirInsight

How about non-Hubs? The table below is a lot bluer than one would expect.  The range limitation applies, of course.  But rather than dismiss blue markets across the Atlantic, airlines might want to consider a MoM for some of these markets.  For example, a 230-seater MoM at ~75% load factor will likely break even with 170 seats sold.   That makes several blue markets attractive for a MoM operator.

I 92 AirInsight

The data allows us to look at specific US ports of entry, and we chose Boston for the following table. And take a look at the opportunities now.  An operator with a single-aisle MoM could have a field day; there are a lot of possibilities.

I 92 AirInsight

We get this range map if we map Boston flights up to 3,500NM. That offers a plethora of markets for an A321LR or XLR.


If we add the MAX 9 and MAX 10 to the map and use 3,000NM for the range from Boston, we get the following range map. There are lots of markets that could be opened and considered.


The purpose of this note is to reinforce what we have noted before.  The I-92 offers the fastest reporting dataset on international traffic for US air travel.  This dataset is proving very useful.

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Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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