Monday, June 02, 2014

100,000 Flights a Day

There's always a train. Or so a Norwegian saying goes. These days, planes seem to be catching up though. There has never been more flights per day. But just how many daily departures, and arrivals, are there world-wide?

More than ever. 2014 is first year we see more than 100,000 flights a day! 

Related article: Is it safe to fly?

Let's dig into the numbers a little. The passenger airline industry is dominated by three alliances; Star Alliance, One World and Sky Team. Adding their average daily operations should give a good clue of daily air departures.

Star Alliance: 18,043 flights per day
One World: 14,011 flights per day
Sky Team: 15,723 flights per day
Accumulated total: 47,777 flights per day

But there are a lot of other passenger airlines and cargo transport happening too. More than twice the number of the three big alliances, in fact. Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) released Aviation Benefits Beyond Borders, a detailed report on the aviation industry, in April 2014. 

The report shows that there are 37.4 million flights scheduled in 2014! That is up 2.7% from 2013. And it means an average of 102,465 flights per day.

The number of daily flights has never before passed 100,000.

In 2013 we saw "only" 99,726 flights per day. 

102,465 flights sound like a lot, but keep in mind that there are 49,871 routes being served globally. Some are served many times a day, others only once every two weeks or even just a few times a year. 

There is no sign of a decline in passenger or flight numbers either. Flying in developing markets like China, India, the Middle East and Africa is growing fast. People are making more money and seem willing to spend it on travel. I don't blame them.

The number of passengers is estimated to fall a little from 3.1 billion in 2013 to just under 3 billion in 2014, despite the increase in flights. Competition is becoming more fierce, and airlines are struggling to fill their flights. 79.4 percent of seats were occupied on the world's airliners in April 2014, according to IATA. The comparable figures for trains, buses and cars are 40%, 60% and 30%.  

The airline industry spends 210 billion USD on 273 billion liters of fuel every year (that's just 0.77 USD per liter) and is responsible for 2% of the world's emitted carbon dioxide. Do take into account that there are 1,397 commercial airlines out there, owning a total of 25,332 aircraft.

I also dive into the numbers. Is it really safe to fly?