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The cheapest airlines per mile (and Ryanair's not where you'd think)

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The cheapest airlines per mile (and Ryanair's not where you'd think) - Airlines publisher
Tatjana Obrazcova
Aircraft: Airplanes
Source: The Telegraph

Flying with Emirates, crowned the world’s best airline at the 2016 World Airline Awards, works out cheaper per mile than flying with Ryanair, new research suggests.

Rome2rio, a travel search engine, compared nearly 1.2 million airfares from 312 airlines to determine each carrier’s average price per kilometre.

It found that Scoot, a Singapore-based carrier, was the world’s cheapest airline, charging an average of USD$0.07 (5p) per kilometre, followed by Russia’s Aeroflot and Australia’s Jetstar Airways.

More interestingly, however, was the fact that intercontinental airlines such as Emirates (6th), Sri Lankan (8th), Singapore Airlines (9th) and Cathay Pacific (10th) were all ranked cheaper than Ryanair (13th), which, according to Rome2rio, charges an average price of USD$0.11 (8p) per kilometre.

Ryanair, however, was declared cheaper per kilometre than Easyjet (22nd), Virgin Atlantic (25th) and British Airways (41st).

Telegraph Travel put Rometorio’s research to the test with hypothetical bookings from Birmingham to Faro with Ryanair and Birmingham to Dubai with Emirates, leaving on September 2 and returning on September 9. 

At a glance | The 20 cheapest airlines (per km)

Ranking Airline Country Cost per km (USD)
1 Scoot Singapore $0.07  
2 Aeroflot Russia $0.08  
3 Jetstar Airways Australia $0.08  
4 Tiger Airways Singapore $0.08  
5 AirAsia Malaysia $0.09  
6 Emirates UAE $0.09  
7 Wizzair Hungary $0.10  
8 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka $0.10  
9 Singapore Airlines Singapore $0.10  
10 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong $0.10  
11 V Australia Australia $0.10  
12 Garuda Indonesia Indonesia $0.11  
13 Ryanair Ireland $0.11  
14 Saudi Airlines Saudi Arabia $0.12  
15 Air India India $0.12  
16 Royal Jordanian Jordan $0.13  
17 Hong Kong Hong Kong $0.13  
18 Thai Airways Thailand $0.13  
19 Virgin America USA $0.14  
20 Icelandair Iceland


Ryanair was indeed more expensive, charging 4.8p per kilometre, compared with Emirates’ 3.7p.

However, in another booking, Ryanair showed itself to be significantly cheaper: one-way flights from London to Barcelona worked out at 2.4p per kilometre with the low-cost carrier, while London to Dubai with Emirates came in at 7.8p. Both bookings were for October 7.     

“Our analysis is intended to be a conversation starter, not a definitive statement on pricing trends,” said Rome2rio’s CEO, Rod Cuthbert.

Cuthbert believes these rankings will be subject to significant shifts over the coming months.

“With global uncertainty around oil prices, economic stability, geopolitical pressure and the UK’s recent decision to leave the European Union, we expect there will be many changes to these rankings,” he said. 

Many factors can influence airline costs including the type of aircraft, routes flown, local salaries, local fuel costs, ancillary revenue, and airport landing fees.

Rome2rio claims budget carriers such as Lion Air and AirAsia are cheaper because they are based in countries with lower than average salaries.

Airlines such as KLM are more expensive, it claims, because they tend to initiate innovative projects.  

“In 2012 [KLM] made the first transatlantic flight fuelled partly by sustainable biofuels; they’ve also started using biofuels on some European routes,” said a spokesperson for Rome2rio.

“The research and development behind that sort of innovation doesn’t come cheap.”

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