Today the US Dot released some updated numbers on fuel burn and costs.  As expected fuel cost has dropped remarkably – but so has consumption.  No traffic, no fuel demand, and oil prices drop.  Take a look at the charts.  As you’d expect the numbers for 2020 are off spectacularly.  Bear in mind the 2020 data is only through April. The lower chart does reflect lower costs per gallon well into 2020.

History shows the level of improvements the US airline has seen in fuel efficiency.  The next chart illustrates this rather well.  Fuel consumed dropped off until 2013 when it started to rise in sympathy with traffic growth.

To get an even better idea of the impressive improvement we combine the data to show fuel consumed per passenger. The declining curve represents a 50% improvement in fuel burn per passenger between 2000 and 2019. And that was before the MAX and NEO!  Since these aircraft are going to become the majority of airliners in US domestic service going forward (soon for the MAX one hopes) that curve will keep going down. 

What does this mean for oil prices?  It seems plausible that US airlines remain focused on lowering fuel burn even as they plan to carry more people.  That should imply an ongoing downward pressure on Jet-A prices as consumption is impacted by improving efficiencies.

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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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