If you were an airline, you’d be paying $1 per gallon less for fuel

By | July 13th, 2008

I got a little curious after hearing about the airline industry’s self-serving push to regulate oil speculation. It made me wonder how much the airlines were paying for a gallon of fuel.

Here’s the somewhat surprising answer: on average, the airlines are shelling out up to $1 per gallon less than we do at the pump.

I’m no expert on the airline industry, and unlike some other travel columnists, I’m not going to pretend to be one. But I think these numbers speak for themselves.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the US airlines spent an average of $3.05 a gallon in May, or roughly $3.5 billion. It’s the latest month for which statistics are available.

But compare that to $3.81 per gallon of gasoline paid by the average motorist in the United States the same month, according to the government’s Energy Information Administration. When you look the fuel costs of non-scheduled airlines — they paid $2.81 per gallon — it comes out to about a $1 per gallon difference.

I know, I know. Comparing unleaded gasoline to jet fuel is problematic. And so is comparing wholesale prices to retail prices. Point taken.

But I don’t care.

If airlines are paying a buck per gallon less than we are, they should just shut up about energy costs. If anyone has a right to complain, it’s us.