Source: US Energy Information Administration, U.S. Gulf Coast Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel Spot Price FOB, USD per gallon.
Fuel accounts for about 40% to 50% of air operating costs of a single flight, depending on the type of plane used (economies of scale and fuel efficiency are directly related). While during the 1990s, jet fuel prices were very stable, the beginning of the 21st century is marked by a surge or prices as well as large fluctuations. Since 2000, the airline industry has faced an environment characterized by much higher fuel prices and volatility. Between 2005 and 2016, fuel prices could vary between 20% and 35% of the operating expenses of an airline. In the 2010s, jet fuel prices stood at six times the level seen in the 1990s. While jet fuel prices substantially declined at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, they bounced back sharply afterward because of inflationary pressures. This volatility makes the long-term planning of air operations more complex, prioritizing aircraft design and focusing on fuel efficiency.