AirHelp, an air passenger support organisation, has shared the results of its market report that explores the impact of last year’s flight disruptions on the economy and the environment across Europe, the US and Australia. Flight disruptions were classified as cancellations and delays of more than 15 minutes.
In 2022, at least 200 million passengers were affected by delays and cancellations in the US, 330 million in Europe and 12 million in Australia, losing a total of 650 million hours of their time in delays and requiring 30 million overnight hotel stays.
The economic impact was investigated by AirHelp using four metrics: incremental operations time for airlines; value of time lost by passengers; spillover effects on other segments of the economy; and additional costs of accommodating flight cancellations.
In 2022, flight disruptions generated an impact on the economy of $30–34 billion in the US, $27–32 billion in Europe and up to $1.5 billion in Australia – up to $67.5 billion in total and approximately 11 per cent more than in 2019 despite there being less traffic.
Cost to passengers had the biggest impact, making up 37 per cent of the total cost to the economy. This is due to the value of time and productivity lost by passengers due to delays, based on the hourly value of passengers’ time, from aviation agencies’ estimates.
Contributing 32 per cent to the total economic impact was the cost to airlines, such as the cost for additional fuel, crew, and maintenance. Spillover costs (16 per cent) with costs for food services, hospitality and retail, and cancellation costs (15 per cent) like hotels and other arrangements for impacted passengers, also play a significant role.
Disruptions carry a significant burden on the environment due to longer flying and taxiing time of delayed planes, as well as additional services used like taxis and hotels. The report discovered that flight disruptions generate an additional nine million tons of CO2 emissions, equal to 1.3 per cent of the industry total. The added carbon footprint equates to annual emissions of approximately two million passenger cars and would require around 3,000 wind turbines running for a year or 300-350 million trees to offset.
Where passengers require hotel nights, meals and transportation due to cancelled and delayed flights, additional and preventable waste is generated. Up to 90,000 tons of waste per year comes as a result of hotel stays and meals for passengers affected by cancellations.
AirHelp CEO, Tomasz Pawliszyn said: “Flight disruptions are an inconvenience for passengers, airlines and airports, and the impact financially and environmentally has become a leading issue for the industry since the pandemic. To ensure passengers are better protected from disruptions and the financial consequences, airlines should improve their communications with passengers, particularly regarding air passenger rights.”