Per-Minute Cost of Delays to U.S. Airlines

Direct Costs
In 2014, the cost of aircraft block (taxi plus airborne) time for U.S. passenger airlines was $81.18 per minute, 2.7 percent greater than in 2013. Fuel costs, the largest line item, grew 1.8 percent to $38.34 per minute. Crew costs are estimated to have cost $16.92 per minute, followed by maintenance and aircraft ownership ($12.36 and $8.52, respectively) and all other costs ($3.01).

Calendar Year 2014 Direct Aircraft Operating
Cost per Block Minute
∆ vs. 2013

   ​2014 Delay Costs ($mil)

Fuel $38.34 1.8%


Crew – Pilots/Flight Attendants 18.95 7.8% ​2,136 
Maintenance 12.36 0.0% ​1,393 
Aircraft Ownership 8.52 -1.1% 960 
Other 3.01 6.8% 339 
Total Direct Operating Costs $81.18 2.7% ​$9,149 

1. Costs based on DOT Form 41 data for U.S. scheduled passenger airlines   2. Arrival delay minutes (Arr:00) reflect operations at 77 U.S. airports as captured in the FAA ASPM database

Additional Costs
Delayed aircraft are estimated to have cost the airlines several billion dollars in additional expense.  Delays also drive the need for extra gates and ground personnel and impose costs on airline customers (including shippers) in the form of lost productivity, wages and goodwill. Assuming $46.53 per hour* as the average value of a passenger’s time, 2014 delays are estimated to have cost air travelers billions of dollars.  In 2010, FAA/Nextor completed a comprehensive study on the costs and impacts of flight delays in the U.S. and estimated the annual costs of delays in 2007 to be $31 billion.

ATC delays, especially enroute delays, prevail in many parts of the national airspace system. Moreover, our airport and airway infrastructure can not be scaled to meet future demand as anticipated in the FAA aerospace forecasts. In addition to new runways, the deployment of modern ATC technologies and changes to operational procedures are critical to the nation’s air system and the economy.

* derived from FAA-recommended values as adjusted using BLS employment cost index.