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Why are flight times longer than they were 40 years ago?

01:15, Wednesday, 30 October, 2019
Why are flight times longer than they were 40 years ago?

Today, a non-stop flight from New York to Houston, Texas, takes about four hours. In 1973, the same flight would have taken just over two and a half hours. So much for progress.

But this is not an isolated case: flight times are getting longer.

London to Edinburgh takes, on average, 10 minutes longer than it did in the mid-Nineties; Madrid to Barcelona takes up to 20 minutes longer; while New York to Chicago is likely to take two hours and 50 minutes rather than the two and a half hours it took in 1996.

There are a number of reasons that more time is needed for airlines to fly from A to B, but one explored recently is fuel costs.

According to Business Insider, as the price of fuel rose in the Noughties, from $0.70 per gallon to over $3, airlines realised they could save millions of pounds per year by flying their planes slower, therefore using less fuel – but arriving at the destination later. A gallon of jet fuel cost $1.59 at the end of 2016.

For example, in 2008, Associated Press reported that American airline JetBlue saved $13.6million (£11m) a year by adding two minutes onto the length of each flight.

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