World's airlines pocket just £2.62 per passenger

The biggest airlines are struggling to make the price of a pint from each passenger on their flights, according to the aviation industry's trade body.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

Thought the airlines were making a fortune? Think again. According to Tony Tyler, the head of the International Air Transport Association, the biggest carriers from countries around the world are making just $4 profit per passenger.
 
Speaking at the IATA summit in Cape Town, Tyler said that even this paltry sum was a massive improvement on the 2011/12 period, when the figure was more like $2.50.
 
He said: ‘Generating even these small profits under current conditions is a major achievement. The price of fuel, our largest cost item has increased 55% since 2006 and we continue through the greatest period of economic stress since the 1930s.’
 
The figures go some way to explaining why the food on bigger airlines is so ghastly and non-food-like, and also why carriers such as Ryanair have considered introducing ‘a-pound-a-pop’ loo fees. Or ‘standing seats’. Or cattle prods. 
 
There are a couple of factors influencing fuel price: first there’s commodity trading, which has seen crude oil rise from $82 a barrel to $130. Then there’s the tax the governments around the world are slapping on aviation to varying degrees. Obviously cash-strapped governments see the airlines as sitting ducks that can be taxed to prop up the national coffers.
 
It’s worth noting that additional charges for queuing first, extra bags or selecting your own seat (which used to be included in the price of tickets) now account for about 5% of airline revenues. That’s 10 times more than it was in 2007. As an example, Ryanair makes about as much revenue from extras as it does from flying people around. 
 
No wonder they’re so picky when you try ramming your luggage into that testing-frame-thingy. Your actual fare is barely worth a sandwich to them.

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