Domestic air-traffic delays cost US economy $41 billion in 2007

Washington: Delays in domestic air-traffic cost the US economy as much as $41 billion last year, according to a new report from the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) of the US Congress. The JEC is one of four standing joint committees of the US Congress, and conducts economic research of policy issues.

The report outlined the costs as follows:

  • $19 billion for extra costs for crew, fuel and maintenance as planes idled at the gate or circled in holding patterns;
  • up to $12 billion for the lost productivity, business opportunities and leisure activities of delayed travellers, their employers and others;
  • about $10 billion for indirect costs to industries that rely on air traffic, such as food service, lodging, general retail and public transportation.

"Passengers were delayed by 320 million hours last year, and with the summer-travel season being kicked off with Memorial Day, delays and the costs of those delays will only go up," said Sen. Charles Schumer, chairman of the JEC.

According to the JEC, delayed flights consumed about 740 million additional gallons of jet fuel, costing about $1.6 billion. It examined more than 10 million flight records for 2007.

Almost 20% of total domestic flight time was wasted in delay, according to the report. Most flight delays,about 78%, occurred before take-off. Most delays, 94%, were caused by other flights arriving late, national system delays or air-carrier delays.

 Security or extreme weather accou8nted for less than 6% of delays.

Flights to, and from, 35 largest US airports made up about half of all passenger delays.  New York City area airports accounted for more than 27 million hours of passenger delays.