U.S. domestic airline fuel-efficiency ranking 2017-2018
This study assesses the fuel efficiency of U.S. airlines on domestic operations in 2017 and 2018. Revenue passenger miles (RPMs) increased 10% and departures increased by 4% from 2016 to 2018. Fuel efficiency in terms of RPMs per gallon of fuel consumed improved by 3%. The net result was a 7% increase in overall fuel burn and CO2 emissions from domestic passenger operations. Over the past five years, CO2 emissions from U.S. domestic operations have increased by 15%.
Frontier Airlines was the most fuel-efficient U.S. domestic airline in 2017 and 2018, up from second place in 2016. Due to investments in new aircraft like the A320neo, the airline improved the fuel efficiency of its fleet by almost 4% from 2017 and 2018. Frontier also flew more direct routes, and with more passengers per flight, than the majority of its peers. The second and third placed airlines, Spirit and Southwest, burned 7% more fuel on comparable flights. The last-placed airline, JetBlue, burned 26% more fuel than Frontier on comparable flights in 2018.
The analysis shows consistent increases in aviation CO2 emissions despite voluntary efforts to increase fuel efficiency. Domestic airlines in the United States burned 12.5 billion gallons of fuel in 2018, a 17% increase since 2009. With the increase in passenger demand and miles flown, jet fuel emissions per capita in the United States are about 8 times that of the global average.