fuel economy of airliners vs. automobiles

From:         kls@ohare.Chicago.COM (Karl Swartz)
Date:         27 Mar 95 12:24:26 
Organization: Chicago Software Works, Menlo Park, California
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On several occasions, discussions have surfaced in this group
regarding the fuel economy of an airliner, usually as compared
to automobiles.  Lufthansa released their first annual environ-
mental report today, and it reportedly includes some numbers
which may be of interest.

The report indicated that Lufthansa's aircraft consumed 5.5 liters
of fuel per 100 passenger kilometers, down 15.4 percent from 1991.
They claim the equivalent average figure for the "car industry" is
9.8 liters, which I translate to about 24 miles per gallon.  That
sounds about right, though it would seem to assume only one person
per car.  (Probably close enough here in California!)

Lufthansa's load factor for 1994 was 70%, up 12.9% from 1991's 62%.
Since an extra body adds very little to the marginal cost of flying
an airliner, this figure probably accounts for most of the improve-
ment in fuel usage.  (Flying a 100-seat aircraft with 70 passengers
uses little more fuel than with 62 passengers, but you amortize the
fuel over more people so fuel per pax km improves accordingly.)

Compared to other airlines, Lufthansa's figures are probably a bit
better because of its younger fleet, 5.3 years vs. an average of
about 12 for the industry.  A mix of long-distance, intercontinental
flights, and short-hop domestic and intra-European flights probably
puts Lufthansa ahead of airlines like USAir or Southwest, but behind
Singapore Airlines, which also benefits from a very young fleet.

Karl Swartz	|INet	kls@chicago.com
1-415/854-3409	|UUCP	uunet!decwrl!ditka!kls
		|Snail	2144 Sand Hill Rd., Menlo Park CA 94025, USA
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