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Flight Disruptions: AirHelp Shines Light On Hidden Costs to the Economy and Environment

AirHelp has published a comprehensive report on flight disruptions. In the report, the passenger support organization details the extensive financial and ecological impacts of flight disruptions in the US, Europe, and Australia.

Staggering Economic Toll

Flight disruptions, encompassing delays exceeding 15 minutes and outright cancellations, are more than inconvenient for travelers. The financial repercussions are daunting:

  • In 2022, flight disruptions saw the US economy absorb up to $34 billion in costs, Europe grappling with $32 billion, and Australia accounting for $1.5 billion. Surprisingly, these figures mark an 11% increase from 2019, even with reduced air traffic.
  • At least 200 million passengers in the US, 330 million in Europe, and 12 million in Australia were affected by delays and cancellations. Cumulatively, they experienced over 650 million wasted hours and needed 30 million hotel nights due to cancellations.
200 million passengers in the US, 330 million in Europe, and 12 million in Australia were affected by flight disruptions including delays and cancellations.

The most significant contributor to these massive figures is the time and productivity passengers lose due to disruptions, with passengers bearing 37% of the total cost. Airlines’ operational costs come at 32%, while spillover costs, including hospitality and retail services, comprise 16%. The costs for hotels and other amenities for affected travelers contribute another 15%.

  • 42% of airline costs are attributed to crew, followed by fuel and maintenance

Environmental Ramifications of Flight Disruptions

Beyond the immense economic toll, the environment also pays a hefty price:

  • Flight delays and disruptions contributed 9 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2022, equating to 1.3% of the total aviation industry’s CO2 footprint. These emissions are comparable to what 2 million cars would produce in a year. Neutralizing this impact would necessitate continuously operating about 3,000 wind turbines yearly or planting 300-350 million trees.
  • Other ecological consequences include up to 90,000 tons of waste generated annually from hotel stays and meals for passengers affected by disruptions.

Additionally, prolonged flight delays, exacerbated stress, increased travel time, productivity losses, missed events, and other unforeseen expenses tarnish the passengers’ experience. Airhelp claims these events also increase noise pollution, especially around densely populated areas and major airports.

AirHelp Calls for Change

AirHelp’s CEO, Tomasz Pawliszyn, stresses the urgent need for change, stating, “Flight disruptions are an inconvenience for passengers, airlines and airports. The impact financially and environmentally has become a leading issue for the industry since the pandemic. To ensure passengers are better protected from disruptions and financial consequences, airlines should improve their communications with passengers, particularly regarding air passenger rights. At AirHelp, we make our regional air passenger rights guides free to access and offer 24/7 online support for those who are facing disruption.”

While Europe and the UK witness promising trends with airlines covering post-cancellation costs, US passengers might face a worsening situation, bearing more of the financial burden due to the lack of stringent passenger protection policies.

AirHelp is committed to safeguarding air passengers’ rights, offering complimentary regional air passenger rights guides and round-the-clock online support.

Download the Full AirHelp Report on the Costs of Flight Disruptions

About AirHelp

Founded in 2013, AirHelp is the globe’s foremost air passenger support organization. With a track record of assisting millions, the company aids travelers in securing compensation for flight delays, cancellations, and denied boarding. Beyond individual assistance, AirHelp actively engages in legal and political endeavors to fortify air passenger rights globally. Learn more about AirHelp at

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