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A4A Quarterly Passenger Airline Cost Index: U.S. Passenger Airlines

August 4, 2014 Association No Comments Email Email

A4A produces the U.S. Passenger Airline Cost Index (PACI) to monitor trends in the cost of inputs (e.g., labor, fuel, food, aircraft ownership, airport landing fees, insurance, utilities, interest) to the provision of air service over time.

The various indices also facilitate comparisons among the components themselves and between airline costs and broader economic indicators. Long-term cost trends are important determinants of airfares. While the PACI includes cost per available seat mile (CASM), the traditional measure of airline unit operating costs, the index values themselves are the superior bellwethers of the price of inputs to production. CASM can mask the true cost of an input because it also reflects changes in productivity over time.

The vast majority of the Cost Index is derived from quarterly financial and operational information collected by DOT (principally Form 41 reports), and historical data may be restated as warranted. Neither the Cost Index nor its components are seasonally adjusted because 1) users may find seasonal fluctuations of great interest and 2) leaving the data unfettered allows users to impose adjustments of their own choosing. Consequently, quarter-to-quarter movements in certain indices may be driven in part by the seasonality of the variables used to compute them.

A4A publishes the Cost Index and restates prior quarters as data becomes available from DOT. It reflects all U.S. passenger airlines filing complete reports for the corresponding quarter. In addition to the summary below, you can purchase and download the latest detailed Cost Index Tables (Excel) and Charts. 

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