Study: Flight Delays Cost Nearly $33B a Year

A new study put out by the University of California, Berkeley, shows that flight delays in the U.S. cost $32.9 billion annually, with passengers footing half the bill.

The study found that the cost to passengers was $16.7 billion a year, based on calculations on lost time due to flight delays, cancellations and missed connections, plus expenses such as food and accommodations.

Airlines faced a direct cost of $8.3 billion.

The study -- which was commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration -- analyzed data from 2007 to calculate the economic impact of delays on airlines and passengers, the cost of lost demand and the collective impact on the economy.

Lead researcher Mark Hansen, the university's civil and environmental engineering professor, says this is the first study of its kind that focused on flight delays and passenger delays.

"Before this work, no one actually analyzed the data to see how flight delay affects airline cost or passenger lateness," he told Berkeley's Institute of Transportation Studies.

"Flight delay is a serious and widespread problem that places significant strain on the U.S. air travel system and its customers."

Hansen hopes this study will help find new initiatives to deal with flight delays and how to improve airline operations.