I was flying from New York JFK to Heathrow Airport London, and the guzzling engines were visible from the window. The thought that kept me thinking was, how much does jet fuel cost?
Ever thought of this?
Thousands of gallons (gasoline, diesel, petroleum) will burn for a single commercial flight of 10 or more hours. But, the fuel cost will depend on the oil type ( Jet A, Jet A1, Jet B, TS-1) used in the plane ( Helicopter, Passenger Jet, Private Jet, Fighter jet).
The jet fuel cost will depend on the type of aircraft, type of fuel, and a handful of other factors involved during the flight and should be encountered to measure the exact fuel cost.
Are Planes Allowed to fly with Filled Tanks?
The decision regarding fueling the plane is critical for commercial flights. Commercial flights can burn thousands of fuel for flying people or cargo worldwide. Aircraft don’t always fill up tanks to the maximum because the extra fuel is just the extra weight that the plane has to carry, and extra weight means more fuel consumption; therefore, it is extremely important to decide how much fuel there should be on a plane.
As pilots fuel up the plane themselves, they can only get fuel to make 1.5 trips, and then they can refuel the plane on its return journey.
Pilots of domestic flights can fill up the entire tank to make the return trip, which makes sense for shorter trips but only when fuel is cheaper.
With the rising number of passengers each year, the fuel burning rate is consistent at 17 billion gallons annually, thanks to the technology that is allowing the manufacturers to develop fuel-efficient equipment, which is allowing them to handle the spike of passengers without increasing the fuel demand.
How does Fuel burn in a plane?
Pilots fuel up the aircraft not only to fill fuel for the desired destination but a little extra for an alternate route. So, there are different stages of fuel burning that you should know to know how much fuel a plane can consume and how much it would cost.
Distribution of Fuel in Planes
The trip fuel is the fuel you need from the point of takeoff, climb, descent, and approach to the destination. But planes can face some situations like wind shifts in which you won’t be able to fly higher, and flying at a lower level means more fuel consumption. There is where the contingency fuel comes into play which is the 5% of the trip fuel for flying for five extra minutes.
Suppose the runway is busy due to the tire burst of the preceding plane; there is no way you can land on the runway, so you need alternate fuel so that you can stay in the air for some time until the runway is cleared or you are directed to another airport to land.
Then comes the final reserve, which is the amount of fuel to fly the plane for 30 minutes at the height of 15,000 feet, which is good for long holding or long transitions or diverting the flight due to thunderstorms.
Taxi fuel is used to take the plane from the gate position to the runway to power up air-conditioners and start the engines. The Winter season requires more fuel than taxi fuel to heat passengers’ internal temperature.
Block fuel is the last fuel reserved for parking planes before the locks are removed.
Types of Jet Fuel
We will now discuss different types of jet fuel to help you understand the exact cost of fueling a plane.
Jet A and Jet A1
Most commercial cargo and passenger planes consume Jet A and Jet A1 fuel, and Russia is the only country not using this fuel. Still, every flight from the US, Canada, Australia, and other top countries suses these fuels.
uses1 is perfect for aircraft that travel in cold weather, and the use of this fuel spikes during natural disasters along with the prices. This fuel can remain liquid in higher freezing temperatures to keep the airplane working. Furthermore, the Jet-A1 fuel has a lower energy density than Jet-A. Therefore, the Jet A1 is mostly used by planes crossing the Arctic ocean or areas with the Arctic.
Jet B is a less common but highly dangerous fuel with a lower freezing point than Jet A and is used in aircraft flying over extremely freezing regions. The application of Jet B is mostly for military aircraft.
Russians only use TS-1, and former soviet countries using Soviet-built planes are using this fuel.
World militaries are using different jet fuel classifications like the JP-7 jet fuel is used for Blackbirds, and JP-8 for fighter jets and other planes in US Military.
Real Cost of Jet Fuel
The real cost of jet fuel depends on a handful of factors like weather, aircraft weight, flying height, crude oil price, and the type of jet fuel.
We are going to discuss Fuel prices for the US, and in 2022, a gallon of Jet A costs $5.29, one liter for $1.40, and an aircraft burns fuel for $500 to $2,000 an hour on average, but again, this value will differ depending on the size of the aircraft and the fuel type being used.
Air travel is measured in the nautical units; therefore, one nautical mile can cost $5 to $20 per mile.
How much does it cost to Fuel a plane?
Fuel cost for a smaller plane will be lesser and for a larger plane will be higher. But a handful of other factors will determine the true cost of fuel a plane burns, like market conditions, international crude oil prices, and weather conditions.
For instance, the oil demand dramatically reduced in the recent covid pandemic because of the strict travel restrictions, and only a handful of serious flights were allowed.
Cost of Fuel for a Private plane?
A private jet is relatively smaller in size; therefore, the fuel cost is also lesser, ranging from $250 to $400.
Cost of Fuel for a Private Jet?
Private jets vary in size, but for example, the Gulfstream private jet can burn 50 to 600 gallons in an hour, so the fueling cost for a private jet can range from $2,000 to $30,000.
Cost of Fuel for a Commercial Airliner
A commercial airline capable of carrying 400+ passengers is a large aircraft with many gallons for a single flight that can cost a whopping $20,000 to $50,000. A common example can be a Boeing 747 that can burn 48,000 to 57,000 gallons in one flight.
Hourly Fuel Costs
It is extremely important to calculate hourly fuel costs for any plane because that is going to determine the ticket prices, and passengers are always hunting for cheaper ticket prices, so if airlines can manage to get lower fuel burn per hour, they will reduce the ticket prices and this way more travelers will come.
Agree or not, airlines want to sell more tickets and will do anything in their control to reduce the fuel-burning cost per hour to make tickets cheaper.
Another advantage of burning less fuel per hour is that air pollution will dramatically decrease and reduce environmental pollution. Similarly, the lesser fuel burns, the less fossil fuel demand becomes, which can greatly impact the earth.
Cost of Fuel by Region and Country
Region and country can invariably impact fuel prices because crude oil prices differ in different areas. So, bigger cities can expect a hike in prices while the less crowded cities can face lower prices.
Another thing that can cause higher prices is the supply. The easy supply means cheaper fuel, and the harder supply means shortage and expensive fuel.
Buying Jet Fuel
To buy jet fuel, you first must buy a plane legally, which is a complete process involving aviation authorities. Depending on the area, you can contact the contractors to buy the jet fuel, and you don’t have to get any license to get fuel, but if you do not own a plane, what is the point of getting the fuel.
Fuel is distributed to local companies, regional distributors, and corporations. Then they meet the demands of different areas they control, and that is how the global fuel needs are met.
You can contact any agency with a valid plane license to help you purchase fuel, but a commercial flight does need to show a license to get fuel, as it can be alarming for national security.
Jet Fuel and Ticket Prices
Ticket prices largely depend on jet fuel prices. However, jet fuel is only 20% of the entire airline’s operations, and ticket price directly correlates with the jet fuel price.
Jet fuel price depends on crude oil prices, and you can assume that if the crude oil gets cheaper, the tickets will also be cheaper. If crude oil prices are increasing, you can also expect a hike in ticket prices.
A jet stream engine consumes fuel at a different rate than a piston-based engine, so the fuel consumption will largely depend on the aircraft type. Large aircraft depend on fuel tankers for refueling, which can also add an extra cost.
Common Flights Fuel Cost
- New York JFK airport to London Heathrow, 127,270 UD dollars
- London to the US, 33411 USD fuel cost
- New York JFK to Lax 5325 gallon, 750 USD fuel cost
- Lax to Tokyo Narita, 9500 gallons costing 19190 USD
- Chicago to Miami, 2300 USD
- Miami to Chicago, 72001 Dollars
- Dusseldorf to Portugal, 3500 Dollars
It all boils down to the price of crude oil per barrel. Therefore, many airlines try hedging, which is a fixed price for fuel for particular airlines based on a contract that helps airlines do financial planning because they can purchase a set quantity of fuel at a fixed price for a particular time. Still, incidents like pendants can also be a problem for airlines involved in hedging because the prices will globally decrease, but they have to purchase at the same price they agreed.
So the fuel burn rate depends largely on weather, temperature, weight, and the type of aircraft like piston-engine planes, two-seater pipers, commercial airliners, and private jets.
In recent times, you can see a huge surge in aviation fuel prices because the global crude oil supply has been tightened due to the sanctions on Russia for invasion of Ukraine, and that is why the shrinking crude supply and increasing demand if creating a vacuum as well as a price hike.
Similarly, air transportation is booming after the pandemic and the freight and shipping markets, but the reduced gasoline production is causing a price surge. The fuel demand is plummeting, but pilots tend to shop for fuel from affordable pumps.
Fuel consumed by U.S. airlines (total) scheduled service:
March 2019: 1.53 billion gallons
March 2021: 1.00 billion gallons
Feb 2022: 1.14 billion gallons
March 2022: 1.38 billion gallons
Fuel cost per gallon for U.S. airlines (total) scheduled service:
March 2019: $2.02
March 2021: $1.85
Feb 2022: $2.60
March 2022: $3.04
Total fuel cost for U.S. airlines (total) scheduled service:
March 2019: $3.09 billion
March 2021: $1.85 billion
Feb 2022: $2.98 billion
March 2022: $4.18 billion