White paper

U.S.–Latin America airline fuel efficiency ranking, 2017–2018

Tracking progress

This paper compares the fuel efficiency of 19 major airlines operating direct flights between the United States and Latin America, a route group that accounted for 42% of international departures from the United States in 2018. The study uses the same methodology as the previous transatlantic and transpacific airline fuel efficiency rankings.


  • U.S. carrier Frontier and Mexican carrier Volaris tied as the most fuel-efficient airlines on nonstop flights in 2018 between the United States and Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Each had an average fuel efficiency of 37 passenger-kilometers per liter of fuel (pax-km/L), 16% better than the industry average.
  • Brazilian airline Azul, at 44 pax-km/L, was the most fuel-efficient airline on nonstop flights between the United States and South America in 2018 and beat the industry average by 19%. As shown in the figure below, the least fuel-efficient carrier in this market, TAME, burned 52% more fuel per passenger kilometer than Azul, which operated the fullest planes in terms of passenger and freight load factors.
  • Of the contributing factors analyzed, belly freight share of total mass carried was the most influential driver of airline fuel efficiency in the U.S.¬–Latin America market; it explained almost half of the quantifiable variance between the best and worst performers, and was followed by aircraft fuel burn, which accounted for 19% of the variation. Seating density and passenger load factor were relatively less important.
  • Major improvers from 2017 to 2018 include Volaris (34 to 37 pax-km/L), Sun Country (31 to 33 pax-km/L), Interjet (26 to 28 pax-km/L), and Azul (42 to 44 pax-km/L). Volaris improved significantly by modernizing its fleet with highly fuel-efficient Airbus A320neo aircraft.
Ranking, airline efficiency, US-South America, 2018