The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) today released U.S. airlines’ February Fuel Cost and Consumption numbers indicating U.S. scheduled service airlines used 1.14 billion gallons of fuel, 5.4% less fuel than in January 2022 and 11.4% less than in pre-pandemic February 2019. The cost per gallon of fuel in February 2022 ($2.60) was up 24 cents (10.2%) from January 2022 and up 70 cents (31.3%) from February 2019. Total February 2022 fuel expenditure ($2.98B) was up 4.5% from January 2022 and up 16.2% from pre-pandemic February 2019.
At $2.60, the cost per gallon of fuel in February was the highest since October 2014’s $2.68. Also noteworthy in February 2022 was the 55.8% year-over-year increase in fuel consumption on domestic flights, reflecting an increase in domestic air travel from last February. Combined with the 60.9% year-over-year cost per gallon increase, the increase in fuel consumption resulted in a year-over-year domestic fuel cost increase of 150% ($1.27 billion).
BTS said: “Fuel consumption typically increases or decreases with the number of passengers traveling by air as airlines trim or expand their schedules based on anticipated passenger demand. The drop between January and February in fuel consumption was 8% in 2018 and 9% in 2019, but it was reduced this year to 5.4% as the number of passengers enplaned increased from January to February 2022 (data forthcoming from BTS).
“Although a slight increase in passengers also occurred in February 2021, when COVID-19 vaccinations became more widely implemented, such an increase in February is atypical. This year’s January-to-February air passenger increase is likely related to the slowdown in the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19,” BTS said.