Share of fuel costs in the aviation industry 2011-2020

Fuel costs are a significant but highly variable expense for airlines worldwide, constituting 23.7 percent of total expenditure in 2019. This figure decreased from 32.3 percent in 2012 but is expected to rise again to 28.4 percent of expenditure in 2020.

Jet fuel

Airline fuel, otherwise known as jet fuel or aviation turbine fuel, is kerosene-based and therefore derived from petroleum. Consequently, the cost of airline fuel tracks the overall price of crude oil. However, it is common for airlines to hedge fuel purchases, meaning a constant price is agreed in advance for a set period of time. This practice can be used to create a partial buffer between the price of oil and its effect on airlines’ expenditure.

Fuel costs and profitability

Despite the practice of hedging, the cost of airline fuel greatly affects the profitability of airlines. For example, a clear correlation can be seen in 2015 between the sharp drop in oil prices and the significant increase in airline profits. Other variable operating expenses affecting airlines’ profitability include labor, aircraft maintenance, and airport usage fees.

Fuel costs of airlines worldwide from 2011 to 2019, as percentage of expenditure

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Release date

December 2019



Survey time period

2011 to 2019

Supplementary notes

* 2019 figure is an estimate.
** 2020 figure is a forecast.
Figures prior to 2018 taken from previous reports.

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Statistics on "Passenger airlines worldwide"

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