How airlines make $$
Question: I recently dropped a friend off at JFK for a flight to Cairo. As I was driving from the airport, I spotted an EgyptAir flight landing. This was at 3:30 p.m., and it was the plane my friend would be flying on that evening at 6:30. The trip is approximately 10 hours each way. This seems like a lot of hours for a plane to be in the air in one day. How do airlines maintain planes to travel that many miles back and forth on a regular basis?
— Bob, Long Island N.Y.
Answer: Many airplanes spend 20 hours in the air each day. Design techniques and maintenance programs allow them to safely fly demanding schedules. By carefully managing each airplane’s schedule, the maintenance requirements are met with minimum down time. Airplanes are deployed to produce the maximum amount of revenue in the shortest time.
Q: Besides fuel costs, what other costs are involved if a commercial airliner needs to return to the airport shortly after takeoff?
— Vincent in N.Y.
A: There are some components that are cycle-limited, such as landing gear actuators. They have to be replaced after a specified number of cycles. An air turn-back uses one of those cycles.
The largest cost is the effect on the planned schedule of the airplane for the day. An air turn-back results in the airplane not generating as much revenue as it was scheduled for. In this context, revenue is the number of passengers flown by an airplane per day.
Q: Why are airline seats so small? — Mr. M., Detroit
A: Airlines attempt to get the most revenue per flight. This makes small seats, which often allow the airline to install more seats per airplane, more profitable. It is important to remember that newer seats are better designed to be more crashworthy than older ones.
Q: The weight of an aircraft doesn’t change whether a bag is checked or carried on, meaning the plane burns the same amount of fuel. Is the checked baggage charge just for more revenue?
— Rizwan Rasul, Sadikabad, Pakistan
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