The Huge Cost of Ukraine War on Airlines and World Travel
At 2000 gallons of fuel per hour, fuel costs and travel times matter a lot
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine airlines have rerouted flights to avoid Russia’s large airspace. That has meant hours of extra flight and layover times. Among the most impacted are Japan Airlines and Finnair Oyj (the flag carrier of Finland), which are now flying thousands of miles around their neighbor (Russia), retracing routes abandoned decades ago at the end of the Cold War.
We need simple insights in our noisy world. Please support this reader-supported publication as a wiser alternative to corporate-supported publications or publicity-grabbing phonies!
The re-routing carries with it huge expenses in jet fuel and maintenance costs as well as crew salaries and passenger transit times, what modern humans call opportunity cost of time.
A modern passenger plane burns about 2000 gallons of jet fuel per hour at cruise speeds. Jet fuel prices have increased from abut $3/gallon to more than $5 a gallon since the invasion of Ukraine. So each time Japan Airlines routes its Tokyo service to London using a longer northern route via Alaska and Greenland, it takes an extra three hours in flight times, adding to an average 12-hour trip. That means 6000 extra gallons of jet fuel and about $30000 in extra fuel costs they have to ultimately pass on to the passengers.
The oil and fuel price increase in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine has also impacted costs of domestic flights.
The diversions also are blowing a big hole in airlines’ goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Wars have always been costly. In my upcoming books, I will explain how wars are rooted in imbalances unique to humans. I will also discuss the fragility of the economies and societies we have built because Homo economicus (the term I use in my books to describe human brains driven by unfettered quantitative growth) equates scale, speed and comfort with efficiency. In nature, however, resilience and efficiency are not the same as scale, speed and comfort.
With international travel prices this high, people will likely fly less or not at all. We may also ultimately learn the costs of unfettered (scalable) high speed growth targets. The Sky’s the Limit is literally being tested now with unfettered costs of air travel.