The airline industry has been taking a public relations beating in the last 24 months thanks to the added fees and other measures individual airlines have taken to grow more profitable. People, however, are still flying regularly. Why is flying such an effective mode of transportation?
The Safety of Flying
Flying was as safe in 2012 as it was in 1945.
Compared to other major forms of transportation, such as travel by train, bus, or personal vehicle, flying is the safest and fastest mode of transportation there is. According to Arnold Barnett, who is an MIT professor of statistics, the risk of suffering a death on a flight in the last 5 years has been 1 in 45 million. That means the average flyer could hop onto a flight every day for over 100,000 years before experiencing a fatal crash!
Much has been said about the price of flying rising, especially with the rise in fuel costs. Are these higher prices translating into higher profits for the airline industry?
Airline Financial Statistics
1. Airlines based in the United States posted a combined total net revenue profit of $3.2 billion in Q3 2013.
2. Total revenues for airlines in Q3 2013 alone were $43.2 billion.
3. Added fees, such as baggage handling fees or reservation change fees accounted for $1.6 billion in revenues in that same quarter.
Takeaway: The airline industry is being more utilized now than it has in the past several years. Though individual passengers have their own reason for flying, it is seen as a fast and fairly reliable service that will get people to their destination safely.
General Airline Industry Statistics
1. All flights were considered to be on-time 78.3% of the time in 2013, which is the worst performance of the airline industry as a whole since 2008.
2. The best performing airline in 2013 was Hawaiian Airlines, with an on-time percentage of flights at 92.4%.
3. Despite many problems with being on time, airlines are posting an increase of net profit of over $2 billion in quarter-to-quarter comparisons from 2012 to 2013.
4. Only 12 passenger airplanes crashed in all of 2013.
5. The airline industry as a whole logs over 17 million flight hours every year.
6. Air Canada has serviced 4.37 million flights since 1983 without having an accident that involves a passenger fatality.
7. Southwest Airlines has serviced 18 million flights without having an accident that involves a fatality, nor have they had one during the company’s entire existence.
8. JetBlue, Hawaiian Airlines, and WestJet are also accident free.
Takeaway: When an airplane does crash, it tends to make the major media news coverage and these reports tend to make it seem like airline safety is going downhill. The fact is that flying is statistically safe; some airlines have never had any accidents that involve a fatality, and that makes flying the safest and most time efficient mode of transportation in the world today.