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Airlines make a slim profit from an average fare. That’s the conclusion of a new video that analyzes the costs of a single flight from New York to Washington, D.C.

“Why Flying is So Expensive” is a 10-minute documentary by Wendover Productions, which posts videos to YouTube “explaining how our world works… from science to economics to geography to marketing and more.”

The video concludes that flying a full Airbus A320 (154 passengers) one way from New York-JFK to Washington-Dulles nets an airline a $10 profit from an $80 fare. Wendover broke down the costs using information from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Transportation Security Administration, Airbus, and others.

Paying the salaries of flight crews, purchasing aircraft, the cost of maintenance – both labor and parts - and especially government taxes and fees are among the costs the video cites.

Here’s a per ticket breakdown, according to the video:

  • Fuel: $2.50
  • Crew salaries: $1.50
  • Airport landing fees/costs: $13.50
  • Paying off cost of aircraft: $11.50
  • Aircraft insurance: $0.25
  • Aircraft maintenance: $14
  • Taxes and fees: $15.60
  • Cost of running airline: $10
  • Miscellaneous: $1.25

The video does not mention fees most airlines charge for items such as baggage and drinks, which customers can choose to pay or avoid.

The piece goes on to say that despite all the costs, flying has become less expensive. “In the past 30 years, the average inflation-adjusted airfare has dropped by 50 percent, and it is still dropping,” the narrator says. 

The video, posted on YouTube this month, has attracted media and blog coverage from outlets such as London’s Telegraph, and had been viewed more than 890,000 times as of Monday.

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