Source: adapted from McCartney, S. (2012) “How Airlines Spend Your Airfare”, Wall Street Journal, June 6.
Note: A domestic plane of around 100 passengers would by the MD-95 (Boeing 717) or the Embraer 190.
Cost Structure of a Typical Domestic 100 Passengers Flight, c2012
Domestic flights represent the dominant type of service offered by most airlines around the world, so the cost structure is highly representative of the general cost structure airlines are facing.
  • Fuel costs remain the dominant (29%) cost assumed for flights. The important increase in jet fuel prices since 2000 has placed significant pressures on airfares.
  • Salaries (20%) are the second most important cost.
  • Ownership costs (16%) include buying, leasing and insurance costs.
  • Fees and taxes (14%) are related to government oversight of the air transport system (e.g. air control), airport landing fees and security screening costs.
  • Maintenance costs (11%) cover all the labor and parts required to keep planes in suitable operational conditions.
  • Other costs (9%) include a variety of expenses related to inflight catering, airport gate fees and compensation paid to passengers (overbooked flight, lost luggage, etc.)
The depicted cost structure must however be considered with caution because of the variety of domestic fleets maintained by air carriers. For instance, a prevalent plane used for domestic flights, the Boeing 737-700, can carry about 140 passengers, implying a slightly different cost structure than the one indicated above.