WASHINGTON, June 14, 2017 - The number of passengers traveling on U.S. air carriers in 2016 was 7 percent higher than a decade ago but jet fuel use remained 11 percent lower, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.
Major U.S. airlines, those with annual operating revenue of more than $20 million, consumed 17.7 billion gallons of fuel in 2016. U.S. airlines carried a record 822 million passengers in 2016, up 20 percent from 2007, the data show. EIA says jet fuel consumption has not increased as much as air travel because airline fuel economy has continued to improve.
Fuel economy generally increases as carriers modernize their fleets through purchases or leases of new, more fuel-efficient planes, the agency says. The average fuel economy of U.S. carriers, in terms of available seat-miles per gallon, has increased from 52 available seat-miles per gallon in 2007 to 63 in 2016, up 22 percent.
Similarly, EIA says the average fuel economy of U.S. carriers, in terms of revenue seat-miles per gallon, has increased from 41 revenue seat-miles per gallon in 2007 to 53 revenue seat-miles per gallon in 2016, up 27 percent. The larger gain in fuel economy measured using the revenue seat-miles per gallon metric reflects the effect of increased load factors in reducing the amount of fuel needed to move paying passengers to their destinations, EIA says.
The agency notes that many aircraft manufacturers have plans to design, re-engineer and deliver more energy-efficient aircraft and engines into service using advanced manufacturing and engineering. New aircraft, whether acquired to expand capacity or replace existing capacity, are more energy efficient than the average aircraft in the existing commercial fleet, EIA notes.