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July 17, 2024
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In the US, and probably globally, fuel represents about 40% of airline operating costs. Cutting fuel burn is going to remain a prime focus at every airline.  The case to retire aircraft is driven by MRO costs, but even if an aircraft has acceptable maintenance costs, if its fuel is going the wrong way, the boneyard beckons.

With this in mind, we can see why US airlines are buying new aircraft.  Fuel prices are going up again and the value of early delivery slots is an important competitive advantage. Airlines that made moves some years ago already demonstrate the selections made have worked out well.  The following chart illustrates this with Hawaiian and its selection of the A321neo.  It went from worst to best – short inter-island hops are fuel inefficient (they have little choice in Hawaii) but when they deployed the A321neo things got much better.

In the US, and probably globally, fuel represents about 40% of airline operating costs. Cutting fuel burn is going to remain a prime focus at every airline.  The case to retire aircraft is driven by MRO costs, but even if an aircraft has acceptable maintenance costs, if its fuel is going the wrong way, the boneyard beckons.

With this in mind, we can see why US airlines are buying new aircraft.  Fuel prices are going up again and the value of early delivery slots is an important competitive advantage. Airlines that made moves some years ago already demonstrate the selections made have worked out well. 


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author avatar
Addison Schonland
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.