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The Full Cost of Air Travel


  • David Gillen
  • David Levinson

    () (Nexus (Networks, Economics, and Urban Systems) Research Group, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota)


In this paper we review the theoretical and empirical literature on the cost structure of the provision of air transportation and specify and estimate our own cost functions. We develop a full cost model which identifies the key cost components and then we measure those costs component by component: user costs, carrier costs, infrastructure costs, time and congestion costs, noise costs, accident costs, and pollution costs. Applying the models to data for domestic air travel in the California Corridor, the total long run average cost is estimated to be $0.13 per passenger kilometer traveled. The single largest cost category is owning and operating a plane. In general, because of large fixed cost components, the average cost of infrastructure exceeds the marginal cost.

Suggested Citation

  • David Gillen & David Levinson, 1999. "The Full Cost of Air Travel," Working Papers 199901, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:nex:wpaper:fullcostairtravel

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • R40 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - General
    • R48 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government Pricing and Policy
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity


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