So, for the new profit margin objectives, the levels in question are 25, 40 and 55%. On the surface, they don't seem that bad, until you realize how the profit margin number is actually calculated. In this post, I will use examples from Q2 1987 of my small regional airline in GW4. For those looking for the conclusion, it's simple - any country with income tax will prevent anyone from reaching the upper levels of this particular achievement (cliffs: DXB or GTFO).
So, from what I can gather, the "Profit margin, previous financial quarter" is being calculated as follows: (Net profit/loss (post tax)) divided by (Operating Revenues + Other revenues). My Excel spreadsheetery gives that a 30.59% margin (versus the 30.69% on the stats page in-game), which appears to be close enough for hand grenades. So that's fantastic. I earned the first level of the reward. However, when driving today, I was thinking about how I could possibly slap both 40% and 55% with a trout with my small regional airline, and I struggled for a good answer.
When you look at how businesses (including airlines), discuss their profit margins, they are virtually all pre-tax numbers. So, running the pretax numbers on my small regional airline, I get 44.83%, which should be enough to achieve the second level of my precious. Basically, taxes are reducing my in-game profit margin stat by over 30%. Now, what isn't fair to players is that the amount of tax nerfing that happens directly depends on the country that your airline operates its HQ from and NOT the skill level of the player. Thus, if I had my small regional airline in DXB with the same sorts of financials, I would have earned level 2 of this particular achievement based upon the results we're examining.
Given that this doesn't seem fair, I figured I'd run some numbers as for what it would actually take an airline with 1 billion in revenue to reach 25, 40 and 55% post tax margins in the US (at 30%). The results are as follows -
Pretax Profit margin needed to earn achievement with 1 billion in revenue -
25% - $357,142,857
40% - $571,428,571
55% - $785,714,286
Now, I have run a few modestly profitable small regional airlines in my years here in this game, but to see that it takes over a 57% and a 78.5% pretax margin to achieve the badges, I basically see that as impossible (ok, so maybe it is plausible that level 2 can be achieved if you create an airline which has its sole purpose of hitting that goal with the minimum number of planes and lots of cooking of the books) to actually reach those achievement levels without the assistance of beancounting shenanigans.
Therefore, I conclude that the more appropriate way to fairly measure profit margin across airlines is on a pre-tax basis rather than post-tax.