White paper

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

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


Tracking progress