The Full Cost of Air Travel

Thumbnail Image

Persistent link to this item

View Statistics

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


The Full Cost of Air Travel

Published Date



Transportation Research Board




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.


Related to



Series/Report Number

Funding information

California Department of Transportation, California High Speed Rail Commission, Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Isbn identifier

Doi identifier

Previously Published Citation

Gillen David and David Levinson (1999) The Full Cost of Air Travel. Transportation Research Record :Journal of the Transportation Research Board 1662 1-9.

Suggested citation

Gillen, David; Levinson, David M. (1999). The Full Cost of Air Travel. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

Content distributed via the University Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor. By using these files, users agree to the Terms of Use. Materials in the UDC may contain content that is disturbing and/or harmful. For more information, please see our statement on harmful content in digital repositories.