I wanted to comapre the efficientcy/operational cost of Airbus and Boeing aircraft, specifically the A320 and 737 family, early when the game was launched there was a thread about which aircraft makes money and alot of the comments were most people find it easier to make profit with Boeings than Airbus, but there were still people who chose to go with Airbus. I personally like the 737 family but wanted to find if the Airbus had an advantage.
The Airbus A320 family is more expensive but generaly have better capacity and lower maintenance cost than boeing so I started with a formular that would calculate the maintenance cost of these aircraft per week, month, year, 3 years, 5 years and 7 years. This was a simple formular and take into account the the A, B, C and D checks as well as the leasing cost. It does not take into account income from these aircraft it is purely what it will cost to have them in the fleet, it also don't take into account the fleet commonality fuel use, routes flown, range, speed or age. To keep things consistent I used only the new aircraft values because used aircraft varies too much in cost due to age. Formulars were created in series, this will be series I and is numbered with a letter at the end a = week, b = month, c = year and so on each is a simple extrapolation of the last e.g. Ib (monthly cost) is simply Ia (weekly cost) multiplied by 4 with the cost of B check and monthly lease added to it.
Formular Ib: Cost per aircraft variable lease duration (monthly)
(A check x 4) + Lease + B check
this assume each month is only 4 weeks and is an under estimate in most case.
For awhile I looked at the numbers given out and compared the efficientcy of the aircraft and in all leasing period Boeing 737 family were shown to cost less than any of the the Airbus family. A trend did appear within both family, the smaller the aircraft the lower the cost, ie more efficient
while the 737 family shows that 733 is by far the least expensive to run, followed by the 735 and the 734 being the most expensive.
I was aware that this doesn't take into account how many passengers they could carry and the capacity of an aircraft affects its profitability so I modified Formular Ib to include the aircrat capacity. I chose to only use the standard capacity because this was easy to obtain and any change in configuration would also cost more for the aircraft. The modification was only done for Formular Ib becase I considred monthly cost to be the basic cost while weekly cost is a break down of the monthly, also all other formulars takes the results from Ib so any changes in Ib would be passed on to the others.
Formular Ib-1: Cost per seat to break even (monthly)
((A check x 4) + Lease + B check)/# seats
the results are the amount of money each seat needs to generate per month to cover the maintenance and leasing cost of the aircraft. Further modification could be done by multiplying the number of seats by 28 to represent each day of the month since the formular assumes 28 days month (Ib-2), this further mod is the result shown below
having thought about this a bit i concluded that the number of flights doesn't really matter because the formular represent the absolute cost that is needed.
Modification Results Ib-2 (daily)
Again the 737 family is shown to be more efficient than A320, even though the Airbus carries more passengers.
results from Ib with leasing fee
A319-100 ($554,285) lease $527,160
A320-200 ($627,973) lease $598,860
A321-100 ($722,608) lease $691,640
737-300 ($439,130) lease $402,560
737-400 ($489,113) lease $450,490
737-500 ($444,456) lease $409,270
Just by looking at the cost from Ib the majority of the cost is from leasing fee so the cheaper it is to lease the cheaper it is to run, maintenance cost doesn't figure much at all and number of seats almost don't matter for aircraft of the same class.
if a 737-300 and an A320-200 are flying the same route both with 100 LF and charging the same price for tickets then the 733 would generate more profit. Although the differences in range would mean the A320 family will be able to fly some routes while the 737 family can't, but also the 737 family have shorter runway requirements and could benefite more with higher LF but this doesn't matter as much.
After a few days of wondering how much fuel plays into this operational cost I decide to play with the formular and add the cost of fuel to it. Good thing is fuel is calculated in kg per hours and you can easily find the average hours your aircraft are flying from the airline stats page so i went ahead with it. The reason I didn't bother much with fuel was even though fuel price seems high it is per ton/1000kg and so jets like 737 might use only use something like $500 of fuel per hour it just didn't seem all that much compared to the leasing fee. Adding fuel introduce a variable, fuel price, for simplicity i used $200 for all calculation but this could be changed for more current figures in the way I laid it out in excel. the variable for flight hours per day was done in 2 hours increment for calculation.
Formular IIb: Cost per seat to break even, with fuel cost (daily)
((A check x 4) + Lease + B check) + ((fuel price x flight hours x fuel consumption x 28)/1000) /# seats
The results didn't show much of a change as i suspected, the cost for operating from 10-20 hours per day rose linearly and didn't effect much at all for both aircraft family. results below are from 14 hours of operaton per day.
Cost per seat to break even, with fuel cost (daily 14h operation)
looking at the results it seems like 735 are better than or as good as A321-100 I wonder if this is true, a little reluctant to believe this result considering other costs involved, like passenger fee, fleet commonality and employee cost. a simple test i ran was to assume the two planes were flying the same route and are operated for the same number of hours to keep the formular applicable and assume the ticket price was $250 this would give a result shown below.
profit per seat profit per day (14h operation)
A321-100 $250-186 = $14 $14 x 185 = $11,840
737-500 $250-184 = $16 $16 x 122 = $8,052
so the results were still miss leading but this was comparing the largest of the family to the smallest comparing similar aircraft below.
cost profit per day (14h operation)
A319-100 $209 $5,084
737-500 $184 $8,052
A320-200 $212 $5,244
737-300 $175 $9,600
A321-100 $186 $11,840
737-400 $173 $11,242
So generally the 737 family are better than the A320 family (according to my results, I'm sure there must be something wrong somewhere) the A321-100 is still the best of the group on the account of its larger capacity but obviously ticket pricing and number of flights would play a big part in this.
My airline's average ticket price is only $119 and I onyl fly 10.3 hours yet I make a profit, this is because I fly 3 flights a day and since the results I got here are fixed costs over all I make a profit, from the results however if i had gone with either the A320 or A319 I wouldn't be making as much profit as I did, at least as far as the formular tells me. Also used and older aircraft would also have different maintenance cost.
I have also applied this to regional props comparing ATR, Fokker, Saab and DHC amongst others but since these are the most popular I'll only post them below. for props i used 12 hours numbers because they are slower and I think tis unreasonable to assume they'll be operating much more than 12 hours a day, again i coudl be wrong.
Cost per seat to break even, with fuel cost (daily 12h operation)
Saab 340B $188
Saab 2000 $199
Fokker 50 Mk100 $165
Fokker 50 Mk300 $180
DHC 8-100B $200
DHC 8-200A $208
DHC 8-200B $213
DHC 8-300A $172
DHC 8-300B $175
I was really surprised by the results here, the ATR72-200 is by far the most efficient, not only did it cost less to operate because it has 66 seats as standard while the Fokker, DHC and Saab only has 50. I was expecting the DHC to be the best becaue of its low fuel consumption, lower maintenance and cheaper lease.
hope this is useful to some, comments and critism welcome. (it rhymes