Winter Weather Results in $5.8 Billion Economic Toll on U.S. Passengers, Airlines and Airports

For Immediate Release

Bethesda, MD, March 3, 2014 — Relentless winter weather from December 1 through February 28 has already taken a $5.8 billion toll on passengers, airlines and airports according to masFlight, a software solutions company specializing in airline operations.  In comparison, recent winters averaged $3.3 billion in economic impact. The greater than average economic impacts are the result of brutal weather and two new operational regulations since the winter of 2009-2010. Additional travel disruptions continue into this month as winter storm systems disrupt airline operations.

“The airlines’ top priority is to get passengers to their destinations safely and on-time, but this season’s winter weather coupled with new government regulations forced airlines to cancel and delay a record number of flights,” said Dr. Tulinda Larsen, Vice President at masFlight. “The impact on passengers, airlines, airports and the economy reflects the fragility of the air traffic control system and the unintended consequences of new regulations.”

masFlight estimates the total economic costs from winter weather from December 1, 2013 through February 28, 2014 as follows:

  • 1.0 million flights have been cancelled or delayed, impacting 90 million passengers. On average this winter weather has caused 1.0 million passengers daily to have travel plans interrupted by flights delayed or cancelled, 200,000 more passengers each day versus a typical winter.  
  • Total passenger impact from lost productivity and out-of-pocket costs of $5.3 billion from flight cancellations, compared to a typical winter average of $2.9 billion and an average over the previous two winters of $1.5 billion.
  • Total airline costs are expected to be as much as $500 million from higher operating costs due to weather activity and lost revenue from passenger cancellations, as airlines averaged 11,200 daily flights impacted by delays and cancellations.  This represents an average of almost 2,000 more impacted flights per day versus previous winters.
  • Total airport costs of $4.5 million from fewer passengers, including passenger user charges, fewer cars parking, and less expenditure in concessions. Additional costs related to snow removal will be passed on to airlines through adjustments in airport rates and charges.

Read the full release.

masFlight Introduces New Capabilities to Support Aviation Industry’s Legal Challenges

For Immediate Release

Washington, DC, December 18, 2013 — Fresh from its successful participation supporting the American Airlines/US Airways merger defense team, masFlight is expanding its technology-based advisory service to provide innovative industry analysis for airline legal teams.

masFlight’s new quantitative approaches to airline industry analyses leverage the company’s proprietary big-data platform, the most comprehensive source for critical empirical aviation operations data.

“The platform and methodologies we have developed provide new insights into airline issues,” said masFlight CEO Josh Marks. “Our data show that there is often more to the tarmac-delay story than just weather while our antitrust analysis challenged conventional wisdom that mergers are anti-consumer.”

Tarmac Delays

masFlight’s landmark platform, initially built to analyze the impact of tarmac delay regulations on passengers, provides key information on the causes of tarmac delays. The platform, containing gigabytes of operational data collected daily, analyzes the impact of weather on operations and how FAA-implemented ground-delay programs affect specific flights. It also assesses taxi times, gate assignments and aircraft movements for all carriers at an impacted airport, showing how airport gridlock contributes to long tarmac delays.

masFlight’s platform and analytics have already been used by airports and vendors to evaluate the risk of tarmac events and determine how contingency plans can be improved to prevent future problems.

The masFlight study, Tarmac Rule: Three Years Later which assessed the impact of the new regulations and possible alternative solutions, demonstrated how airline investments in new operating procedures and technology reduced risk during weather disruption.  It also shows how operational technology helps airlines reduce cancellation rates. 

Antitrust Defense

Recently, masFlight was retained to assist in defense of the American/US Airways merger in the lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice. masFlight’s analysis provided new approaches to traditional antitrust economic modeling and countered the DOJ’s claims that the merger of the airlines would be anti-consumer.

masFlight’s cloud-based aviation platform showed that:

  • Fare increases that the DOJ claimed were merger-related were clearly and directly correlated to the increase in underlying fuel prices;
  • Fare increases did not cover the full costs of fuel increases;
  • Merged carriers saw no material increase in pricing power on hub-to-hub routes relative to non-competitive routes;
  • Consumers benefited from broader networks, shorter travel times on connecting itineraries and strengthened small community air service;
  • Intercity discount bus services continues to grow, enter new markets and drive down fares. They are changing the way people travel and becoming a threat to airline short-haul services.

About masFlight: masFlight is a data and analytics platform focused on aviation operations that integrates multiple data sources to create reliable, end-to-end records for global flight operations. We capture information on more than 90,000 flights worldwide each day along with contextual information such as weather, airport configuration, aircraft/fleet, passenger demand and operating economics. By unifying critical context with multi-airline detail, masFlight’s platform and services help airlines, airports and the aviation supply chain track and improve operations, reduce cost and identify new market opportunities. Visit us at www.masflight.com

Contact: Kathryn Creedy, 802-733-5481; kathryn@masFlight.com

Big Data Being Harvested to Improve Airline Operations, Save Money

In an interview with The New York Times, masFlight CEO, Josh Marks, discussed the role of big data and its potential to change the economy. Speaking as an expert on manipulating large data sets, Marks indicated airlines are now using his services to streamline operations, save money, reduce fuel and improve overall performance.

The New York Times identified masFlight as a company leading the big data movement. Its article likens the development of big data to the early stages of Internet. Marks said although it has huge potential, he doubts it will replace people with machines.

While confirming big data will drive the expansion of the global economy, Marks indicated that the masses of data now flowing across the internet is of little economic value. In addition, he said large challenges still remain for harvesting that data in real time.

“The promises that are made around the ability to manipulate these very large data sets in real time are overselling what they can do today,” he said, adding, however, that data managed by specialized industry analysts can now be used for practical purposes such as what he is doing to help airlines compete.

Marks noted that aviation executives rarely have on-demand access to detailed internal operational data because of IT constraints and little access to competitor operational performance. Aviation executives and operations executives use masFlight to monitor internal operations and to benchmark performance. In addition, they use masFlight to manage fuel conservation, optimize airport operations, plan for weather, assess staffing and improve flight schedule reliability.

Read the article.

masFlight Commends Congress for Addressing FAA Sequestration Cuts to Air Traffic Control


Today we released an analysis of the impact of delays caused by sequestration-related air traffic control staffing shortages. For details, see the press release and analysis.

masFlight Study Outlines the Power of Big-Data Analytics to Aviation

Today we released a study at the Integrated Communications, Navigation, and Surveillance (ICNS) conference outlining the power of big-data analytics to aviation. For more information, read the press release, see the presentation, or read the study.

masFlight Study on Aircraft Utilization and On-Time Performance for U.S. Legacy and Low-Cost Carriers

Today we released a study at the McGraw-Hill Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Conference (MRO Americas) showing the impact of daily aircraft utilization, overnight (red-eye) operations and gate turn times on schedule reliability and on-time departure performance. For more information, read the press release or see the study.

masFlight Quantifies Impact of Sequestration

Today we released a study at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit quantifying the impact of sequestration on commercial airline passengers and business aviation operations. For details, read the press release or access the presentation and data on our Archive page.

Aviation Experts Analyze Consolidation and Competition Concerns Surrounding Proposed American Airlines, US Airways Merger

Earlier today our own Joshua Marks, CEO of masFlight and Executive Director of the American Aviation Institute, and Darryl Jenkins, Chairman of AAI, hosted a webinar examining airline consolidation and competition considerations surrounding the recently proposed merger between American Airlines and US Airways. To access the presentation, click here.

masFlight Integrates Business Aviation Flight Data

We’ve expanded our coverage with the addition of real-time business aviation flight data for the U.S. and Canada. Our databases now include detailed operational data for Part 91 and 135 charter operations, as well as fractionals, business aviation, and IFR general aviation flying.

Read more about our new coverage in the press release.   

masFlight and FlightStats partner to integrate real-time flight status data into aviation analysis tools

We are pleased to announce today a partnership with FlightStats to integrate their real-time flight status data into the masFlight platform. Read more details in the press release.