Flight delays cost US passengers as much as $17 bn a year
There is now a dollar amount to put on the collective rage of US airline passengers over flight delays: $16.7 billion.india Updated: Oct 19, 2010 22:04 IST
There is now a dollar amount to put on the collective rage of US airline passengers over flight delays: $16.7 billion.
That’s the annual cost to fliers when planes don’t run on time, according to researchers who delivered a report on Monday to the Federal Aviation Administration detailing the economic price of flight delays.
The total cost to the US economy is $32.9 billion, according to the report. More than half that amount comes from the pockets of passengers who lose time waiting for their planes to leave and then spend money scrounging for food and sleeping in hotel rooms while they’re stranded, among other costs.
“We knew that passengers’ costs were being underestimated by using the more simplistic approach,” said Cynthia Barnhart, interim dean and professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Engineering. “We didn’t know the large extent they were being underestimated.”
The researchers calculated that airlines spend $8.3 billion on higher expenses for their crew, fuel and maintenance. Airlines also lose money because they build delays into their schedules, causing them to run fewer flights.
The report focused on data from the year 2007, estimating that air transportation delays put a $4 billion dent into the US GDP that year.
In 2007, one in four domestic flights arrived more than 15 minutes late. One-third of the delays were attributed to an overburdened air-traffic control system. Another third were the result of internal problems at airlines. Other flights were late simply because an aircraft arrived behind schedule and pushed its following flight past the scheduled departure time.
Last week, the US transport department released its statistics on August 2010 flight delays, reporting an overall on-time arrival rate of 81.7 per cent, up from 76.7 per cent in July.
To improve fight schedules, the FAA has pinned its hopes on a dramatic overhaul of aircraft navigation systems, replacing radar with the Global Positioning System, or GPS, by 2025. The programme, called Next Generation, or NextGen, will cost tens of billions to deploy.