The Cities Where Breathing is Worse Than Smoking

On hot summer days¬†in London, UK I regularly walk along some of the most trafficked streets (vehicles). Whilst the pollution is¬†not always visible, I can¬†clearly smell the exhaust fumes of the passing busses and feel it settling¬†on my skin. It does not surprise me¬†reading articles with titles including, “London’s Air is as Bad as Smoking” (credited for the title of this post).

Pollution is¬†arguably the biggest hazard to human health today,¬†especially in our cities (although Donald Trump doesn’t agree). With this concern in my mind, I wanted to uncover some of the worst places for my health to visit.

What is PM 2.5 and PM 10?

Particle pollution, also called particulate matter (PM), is a mixture of solids and liquid droplets floating in the air. Some particles are released directly from a specific source, while others form in complicated chemical reactions in the atmosphere.

    • Coarse dust particles (PM10) are 2.5 to 10 micrometers in diameter. Sources include crushing or grinding operations and dust stirred up by vehicles on roads.
    • Fine particles (PM2.5) are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller, and can only be seen with an electron microscope. Fine particles are produced from all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, forest fires, agricultural burning, and some industrial processes. PM2.5 particles are considered¬†most damaging to health.

Methodology

The World Health Organisation produce a Global Urban Ambient Air Pollution Database (data from 2016 update). The primary sources of data for this are official reporting from countries to WHO, official national / subnational reports and national / subnational web sites containing measurements of PM10 or PM2.5 and the relevant national agencies. The dataset covers 2972 cities from 184 countries.

Analysis

PM2.5 pollution levels by country

PM2_5 Total Country 2014

Interactive map.

Top 10 countries by total PM2.5 pollution level

Country PM2.5 Urban 2014 mean annual¬†őľg/m3 PM2.5 Urban rank 2014 PM2.5 Total Country 2014¬†mean annual őľg/m3 PM2.5 Total Country Rank 2014
Saudi Arabia 127.1 1 107.7 1
Qatar 104.6 2 103.4 2
Egypt 100.6 3 92.8 3
Bangladesh 88.8 4 83.5 4
Kuwait 78.4 7 74.5 5
Cameroon 63.6 12 65.2 6
Mauritania 86.2 5 64.8 7
Nepal 74.3 8 64 8
United Arab Emirates 64.4 11 63.6 9
India 65.7 10 62.4 10

Full table.

Saudi Arabia has levels of PM2.5 pollution in urban areas almost 30% higher than the next most polluted urban areas in Qatar.

For reference, the World Health Organisation recommends¬†10 őľg/m3 (mean annual) as a guideline safe level.

Only 19 of the 179 countries (that reported PM2.5 figures) have equal to or less than the recommended¬†10 őľg/m3 (mean annual)¬†level in urban areas. 20 of the 184 reported countries have total pollution less than this recommendation.

The lowest levels of pollution are found in the Soloman Islands with urban and total PM2.5 levels equal to 5őľg/m3. Notably, larger countries including the United States have urban (8.4őľg/m3) and total (8.2őľg/m3) PM2.5 levels below 10őľg/m3.

PM2.5 pollution levels by city (best and worst)

Rank Country City/Town Annual mean, ug/m3
1 Iran (Islamic Republic of) Zabol 217
2 India Gwalior 176
3 India Allahabad 170
4 Saudi Arabia Riyadh 156
5 Saudi Arabia Al Jubail 152
6 India Patna 149
7 India Raipur 144
8 Cameroon Bamenda 132
9 China Xingtai 128
10 China Baoding 126
2963 United States of America Not in a City,McKenzie,ND 3.20
2964 Canada AUCLAIR 3.00
2964 Canada NORMAN WELLS 3.00
2966 New Zealand Te Anau 2.73
2967 United States of America Not in a City,Custer,SD 2.40
2968 United States of America Not in a City,Converse,WY 2.30
2969 Sweden KIRUNA 2.27
2970 Finland Muonio 2.21
2971 United States of America Wenden, AZ 2.00
2972 United States of America Sinclair,Carbon,WY 1.60

Full list.

Zabol, Iran is the worst polluted city according to the World Health Organisations Air Pollution database by some margin (217 ug/m3 annual mean, 2000% above WHO safe recommended levels!).

4 of the top 10 most polluted cities are in India. 32 of all 2972 cities considered have PM2.5 pollution levels above 10őľg/m3¬†mean annual.

At the other end of the spectrum, many of the least polluted areas are not cities, unsurprisingly. 5 of the least polluted 10 areas are all in the US and all have PM2.5 levels way below the¬†10őľg/m3¬†WHO recommendation.

856 cities considered (of 1972 total) all have less than or equal to¬†10őľg/m3¬†mean annual PM2.5 pollution.

Improvements

From my brief research it would appear there is some disparity in the way pollution levels are reported. Whilst this analysis provides a good overview to the problem of pollution, it could be worth comparing such analysis to the way data is reported (sensor distributions in countries, etc).

Looking at pollution as a problem, it would also be valuable to compare levels of pollution against population numbers to understand how wide the impact is.

tl;dr

Areas of the Middle East are some of the worst polluted on earth, and most dangerous to your health.

Get the data

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

British Airways’ IT Failure Cost the Airline ‚ā¨17,246 a Minute

Well, what a weekend it has been for British Airways.

Thankfully I wasn’t travelling out of Heathrow, my local airport, due to the long weekend here in the UK. However I do know of many friends who’ve had their holidays ruined by the “IT failure” that led to the mass cancellation of flights on Saturday and Sunday by British Airways.

The airline has been going through heavy cost-cutting over recent years. I’m almost certain the events this weekend have wiped out any savings they’ve made. Their share price has dropped by ¬£175mm alone.¬†Though how much might¬†this fiasco directly cost the airline?

Methodology

Airhelp, a company that helps travellers claim compensation for flight delays and cancellations, put together a dataset detailing British Airways flights and estimated passenger numbers for scheduled departures this weekend (27/05/2017 Р28/05/2017) from airports around the world.

In this dataset they split out delayed flights and those that were cancelled. If you booked a flight that departed from Europe or was with a European airline, you  have rights under EU law if your flight is delayed or cancelled. The amount that can be claimed is determined by length of delay, length of flight and wether the flight was cancelled completely.

Using this data it was possible to estimate British Airways’ potential liability for passenger compensation for Saturday (27/05/2017) and Sunday (28/05/2017).

All figure are quoted in Euro’s (EUR).

Results

Worst affected airports (by passengers delayed / cancelled)

Tot affected pax rank Airport Tot delayed pax Tot cancelled pax Tot affected pax
1 LHR 2829 46303 49132
2 LGW 444 4392 4836
3 AMS 284 1153 1437
4 EDI 222 1210 1432
5 JFK 0 1404 1404
6 GLA 243 1072 1315
7 NCE 57 1210 1267
8 GVA 358 847 1205
9 FCO 162 1020 1182
10 DUB 201 910 1111

Full list.

Passengers at LHR (Heathrow), British Airways’ UK hub, saw the worst of the problems. In total 49,132 passengers suffered, 46,303 of them has their flights cancelled.

LGW (Gatwick) was the second worst affected airport for cancelled and delayed flights. 4,836 passengers were affected in total, a much lower number than at Heathrow.

Worst affected airports (by estimated compensation liability)

tot compensation rank Airport 2705 tot compensation (eur) 2805 tot compensation (eur) tot compensation (eur) tot pax
1 LHR 16,819,509 4,414,834 21,234,343 49132
2 LGW 2,067,489 32,324 2,099,813 4836
3 JFK 891,252 891,252 1404
4 DXB 515,516 515,516 668
5 HKG 477,353 477,353 619
6 SFO 435,586 435,586 686
7 EDI 160,470 265,370 425,840 1432
8 AMS 171,197 253,900 425,097 1437
9 GLA 149,743 240,866 390,609 1315
10 GVA 180,207 168,398 348,605 1205

Full list.

Unsurprisingly Heathrow tops the list with a potential liability of¬†‚ā¨21,234,342.77. This equates to ‚ā¨7373 per minute in compensation (21mm / 2880 min)! Ouch.

Remember, one variable that affects the amount of compensation you can claim is the distance of a flight. As BA tend to fly in/out of the UK, passengers flying from/to airports further away from the UK can typically claim more. This is why flights departing from airports¬†like Hong Kong have high total compensation liabilities (‚ā¨477,352.64) in comparison to passenger numbers (619).

Overall, the average compensation¬†liability per airport was¬†‚ā¨245,448.

Worst affected countries (by estimated compensation liability)

Liability rank Country eligible flights eligible seats eligible pax liability (EUR)
1 GB 754 135500 109890 43,490,141
2 US 66 19767 16031 9,618,622
3 FR 78 11322 9182 2,414,753
4 ES 62 9845 7984 2,208,475
5 IT 66 9980 8094 2,187,186
6 DE 59 7876 6387 1,596,859
7 CA 10 2994 2428 1,457,019
8 IN 11 2808 2277 1,366,148
9 GR 24 3840 3114 1,245,696
10 AE 8 2182 1770 1,061,956

Full list.

As British Airways operates out of the UK, it is unsurprising to see compensation liabilities and passengers affected to be highest from¬†British airports. Passengers flying British Airways from the US were the second worst affected (16k passengers /¬†‚ā¨ 9.6mm compensation liability). There were significantly more affected BA passengers from the US than other countries (excluding the UK).

Average claim amounts

Average claim amount by airport histogram

Download chart.

There is a fairly even spread of maximum compensation passengers are eligible to claim.

Typically airports a long distance from the UK – for example DXV, PVG, HKG – have the highest average amount passengers can claim in compensation (‚ā¨771.43) as discussed above.

European airports typically have the lowest amount passengers can claim in compensation (‚ā¨264.53) due to their distance from the UK (or total flight time).

Total liability

tot affected flights tot seats tot pax tot compensation (eur)
Sat 27/5 515 95607 77537 ‚ā¨ 34,193,780.20
Sun 28/5 243 43273 35094 ‚ā¨ 15,476,631.72
Total 758 138880 112631 ‚ā¨ 49,670,411.92

Full table.

In total it is estimated British Airways “IT failure” affected 758 worldwide flights with 112,631 passengers due to fly on them.

Based on EU compensation rules, BA is potentially¬†liable to pay¬†‚ā¨49,670,411.92 in passenger compensation for the two days of delays and cancellations this weekend. Or¬†‚ā¨17,246 a minute (49.5mm¬†/ 2880 min)!

tl;dr

BA is potentially¬†liable to pay¬†‚ā¨49,670,411.92 in passenger compensation for the two days of delays and cancellations this weekend.

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

The Price of A Big Mac Is Just $1.57 In Ukraine — 75% Cheaper Than In Switzerland

McDonalds has a huge global footprint. How many countries have you visited without one?

Economists have even created¬†the Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention — that is: no two countries that have McDonalds have ever gone to war (the theory has since been disproved).

The Economist has gone so far as creating a Big Mac Index, comparing the price of a Big Mac hamburger around the world.

But which country sells the cheapest Big Mac?

Methodology

For Big Mac pricing I used The Economists Big Mac Index dataset (1986 Р2016). This includes local cost, exchange rates, dollar price and dollar purchasing-power parity.

Results

Current Big Mac Index (July 2016) – Cheapest vs. Most expensive

Big Mac Index (July 2016)

Download chart.

Rank Country USD Price (Jul 2016)
56 Ukraine 1.57
55 Malaysia 1.99
54 Russia 2.05
3 Sweden 5.23
2 Norway 5.51
1 Switzerland 6.59

Full list.

There’s almost $5 USD difference between the cheapest Big Mac found in Ukraine ($1.57 USD) and the most expensive in Switzerland ($6.59 USD).

The mean average for a Big Mac in July 2016 is $3.61 USD — about the same price of a Big Mac in Pakistan ($3.58 USD, ranked 28/56).

Big Mac Index 1 Year Change (2015 – 2016)

2015 - 2016 Big Mac Index Change

Download chart.

Rank act Rank pc Country 1y actual change USD 15-16 1y % change 15-16
55 56 Mexico -0.74 -31.01%
56 55 Philippines -0.79 -27.88%
52 54 Taiwan -0.40 -18.37%
3 3 India 0.58 24.09%
2 2 Sri Lanka 1.02 28.00%
1 1 Venezuela 2.71 80.20%

Full list.

Venezuela saw a¬†dramatic rise in the price of a Big Mac between 2015 – 2016 ($0.67 – $3.38 respectively) — although I¬†suspect this may be an error in the raw data.

Mexico and the Philippines saw a dramatic fall in the cost of a Big Mac in dollar terms, a drop of around 30% in both countries.

Big Mac Index 10 Year Change (2006 – 2016)

2006 - 2016 Big Mac Index Change

Download chart.

Rank act Rank pc Country 10y actual 06 – 16 10y % 06 – 16
41 41 Norway -1.54 -27.88%
38 40 Taiwan -0.18 -8.32%
39 39 Mexico -0.19 -8.08%
9 3 China 1.48 53.03%
6 2 Thailand 1.84 54.14%
1 1 Uruguay 2.31 56.66%

Full list.

15 countries did not have data for a 10 year comparison (only 41 displayed). For those considered, Norway has seen the largest Big Mac price reduction by dollar value. Uruguay, Thailand, and China have seen the price of a Big Mac increase by over 50% in dollar terms.

Big Mac Index 30 Year Change (1986 – 2016)

1986 - 2016 Big Mac Index Change

Download chart.

Rank act Rank pc Country 30y actual 86 – 16 30y pc 86 – 16
13.00 13.00 Japan 1.07 30.77%
10.00 12.00 France 2.04 45.28%
11.00 11.00 Spain 1.90 49.39%
3.00 3.00 Canada 3.24 70.47%
4.00 2.00 Australia 3.23 75.14%
1.00 1.00 Brazil 4.60 96.24%

Full list.

Over 30 years the Big Mac dollar price has almost doubled in Brazil. In all 13 countries considered the Big Mac has increased in dollar terms. Inflation over this period in the US was 120.2% meaning Big Mac are actually getting cheaper in real terms (in the US anyway).

Big Mac Index PPP (July 2016)

It is important to point out that¬†I used a simple USD price converted from local currency to compare prices in the last three charts. This does not necessarily mean the price of a Big Mac “increased” in local currency. For example, a Big Mac might cost me ¬£1 GBP in 1986 and 2016, but because of fluctuations¬†in exchange rate values the dollar value of the same burgers might vary significantly (e.g $2 in 1986 vs. $6 in 2016).

Calculating purchasing-power parity can show if the Big Mac is undervalued or overvalued compared to the USD (in USA).

Big Mac July 2016 Dollar Valuation

Download chart.

Rank Country Jul2016_dollar_price Jul2016_ppp Jul2016_dollar_valuation
56 Ukraine 1.57 7.7 -68.8
55 Malaysia 1.99 1.6 -60.58
54 Russia 2.05 25.8 -59.32
3 Sweden 5.23 8.9 3.74
2 Norway 5.51 9.3 9.33
1 Switzerland 6.59 1.3 30.79

Full list.

In many countries the Big Mac is undervalued. As an example, anyone travelling from the USA with a pocket full of USD would pay 68.8% less for a Big Mac in Ukraine when compared to home (USA).

In only 4 countries out of 55, is the Big Mac overvalued compared to the USD (USA) — Finland, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland. In Switzerland the Big Mac is over 30% more expensive.

Improvements

In the interests of fairness, comparing fast-food retailer prices around the world in the same way could make for interesting reading. Does McDonalds huge logistic networks mean they can better compete on price?

tl;dr

The cheapest Big Mac is found in Ukraine ($1.57 USD) — that’s 69% cheaper than buying in the USA.

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

Airlines Owe Passengers Over 3 Billion Dollars in Compensation (and Counting)

Passengers bumped on overbooked flights has been in the news ALOT recently.

Many flyers on EU airlines (or from EU countries) are becoming privy to the fact they could be eligible to claim compensation for delayed flight in Europe. Airhelp, a company that helps passengers claim compensation from airlines, advises delays over 3 hours are typically eligible for compensation.

If you live in the UK you’ll be aware of the huge liability banks have had for PPI payouts in the last 10 years. With many airlines operating on the brink of bankruptcy according to some sources; how much are airlines potentially liable for in compensation payouts?

Methodology

Airhelp, a company that helps passengers claim compensation for delayed flights, provided me with a dataset of airports around the world, number of delayed flights (and seats) eligible for compensation, and a calculated estimate of what the total potential liability was for each airport for compensation during 2016 (based on regulation EC261 which covers delayed, cancelled and overbooked flights). Note, compensation is paid by airlines, not airports. Therefore, this post highlights the airports with the highest number of delays, over-bookings, etc, but is not split out to consider individual airlines.

Whilst the dataset covers a large number of airports around the world (5000), only a subset of airports have data for delayed eligibly (574). This is for 2 reasons; 1) compensation rules differ around the world (see EU vs. US, for example) therefore it is difficult to produce accurate estimates for each geography. 2) Airhelphas a commercial interest in the EU market.

Airhelp provided monetary data in Euro’s (EUR). To keep currency consistency with my other posts on this blog I have converted all figures to US Dollars (USD) using the exchange rate of 1 EUR = 1.09 USD (correct 30th April 2017 via xe.com).

Additional datasets used were from the FAA (US) and CAA (UK) for total aircraft movements at each airport (to calculate the percentage of delayed flights within the US and UK). This data did not differentiate between arriving and departing flights (only departing flights are considered for compensation eligibility), I therefore assumed 50% of operation were departures (roughly in line with LHR figures).

Results

Spread of liability by airport

Flight-delay-compensation-liability-by-airport-2016

Download chart.

The majority of airports were liable for less than 10 million in compensation during 2016 (241 airports), though 61 airports were liable for more than this.

241 airports were liable for more than 1 million USD, and 455 liable for over 100K USD, and 566 liable for over 10K USD. Only 9 were liable for less, with VST Stockholm Vasteras Apt bottom of the list with a liability to 14 passengers totalling $3815 USD (avg. $272.50 USD each).

The compensation liability for all airports considered (574) is 3 billion USD ($3,001,339,552.25 USD).

Top 10 airports by liability

rank liability airport code seats eligible for liability liability USD 2016 30Apr17 Seats per flight eligible for liability Avg. Compensation per seat USD 2016 30Apr17
1 LHR 544,343 265,998,150 167 488
2 CDG 370,152 168,216,158 157 455
3 FRA 284,619 118,030,459 143 414
4 MAD 256,543 98,339,909 144 384
5 AMS 250,153 95,679,110 121 383
6 LGW 239,801 87,262,730 143 364
7 JFK 120,174 78,582,024 192 654
8 MUC 235,045 78,321,378 111 334
9 CPH 200,177 70,264,152 121 351
10 BCN 187,368 61,357,899 147 327

Full list.

The top 3 airports (by liability) accounted for 0.5 billion USD of total liability for ll airports ($552,244,766.75 USD). The top 10 airports accounted for 1.1 billion USD of total liability ($1,122,051,967.75 USD), or one-third of total liability.

Airlines who flew¬†out of Heathrow LHR during 2016 were liable for¬†passenger compensation claims to the tune of $0.25 billion USD ($265,998,150.00 USD) — unsurprising given capacity issues at the airport.

Spread of delays

If you booked a flight that departed from Europe or was with a European airline, you might have rights under EU law if your flight is delayed to claim the following compensation:

Delay to your arrival Flight distance Compensation USD 30Apr17
3 hours or more Less than 1,500km 272.50
Between 1,500km and 3,500km 436.00
More than 1,500km and within the EU 436.00
3-4 hours More than 3,500km, between an EU and non-EU airport 327.00
4 hours or more More than 3,500km, between an EU and non-EU airport 654.00

via: Citizens Advice (UK)

Compensation-liability-USD-per-seat-2016

Download chart.

Average compensation per seat groups at both end of the spectrum, 175 airports owe an average of $270 – $300 USD per seat (lowest claim possible is $272.50 USD), 174 owe an average of $630 – $660 USD (max claim possible is $654 USD). Note, values are per seat (not passenger) this is because a passenger can be delayed multiple times per year and thus eligible for more than one compensation claim.

Worst performing airports for on-time departures (US /  UK only)

rank liability airport code departures est flights eligible for liability % flights liable seats eligible for liability liability USD 2016 30Apr17
1 LCY 42,585 953 2.24% 55,838 15,336,355
2 LHR 237,482 3262 1.37% 544,343 265,998,150
3 LGW 140,333 1677 1.20% 239,801 87,262,730
4 ABZ 48,078 541 1.13% 23,151 6,319,139
5 SOU 21,412 224 1.05% 8,018 2,205,343
6 EDI 61,110 609 1.00% 48,585 14,382,632
7 GLA 49,064 459 0.94% 24,779 7,058,731
8 BHX 56,592 506 0.89% 41,785 12,705,858
9 LBA 22,152 183 0.83% 7,727 2,348,432
10 NCL 28,132 231 0.82% 11,767 3,738,673

Full list.

UK airports make up all 10 of the worst airports for departure operations by compensation liability. 2.24% of flights taking of from LCY London City Airport were liable for compensation claims from passengers.

Note, this dataset only contains US and UK airports for comparison.

Improvements

There are two clear improvements that can be made to allow for a more comprehensive analysis.

Firstly, having access to addition compensation data for more airports with local compensation rules (vs. just EU) could provide interesting analysis into best regions for compensation, worst regions for liability, etc.

Secondly, accurate operations departure data for all major worldwide airports would improve calculations. Due to the datasets used, the above workings only consider some US airports and UK airports, whilst also use estimated commercial departure figures (departures=total commercial operations / 2).

tl;dr

Airlines who flew out of Heathrow LHR during 2016 were liable for passenger compensation claims to the tune of $0.25 billion USD ($265,998,150.00 USD). The compensation liability for all airports considered (574) is 3 billion USD ($3,001,339,552.25 USD).

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

We Are Now Taking Off From 22000 Feet

It is very likely you’re within 50km of an airport — even if it’s a very small one.

Passenger volumes continue to rise year-on-year, and newer, larger airports are needed to keep up with demand. My local major airport, London Heathrow (LHR), claims to operate at 98% capacity.

London alone has 5 major airports, and many¬†fast growing commercial ones such as London Southend (SEN). Although if¬†it’s actually in London is debatable!

With a recent inquisitiveness about airports, I began questioning. How many airports are out there? Where are they? Here are some interesting statistics.

Methodology

OurAirports maintain a comprehensive document of airports around the world. It currently lists over 46000 airports and includes information such as location, elevation, runways, and identification codes. This data was used to perform all analysis.

Analysis

Airports by country

Rank by airport count country count_airports
1 United States 21487
2 Brazil 3833
3 Canada 2434
4 Australia 1879
5 Russia 919
6 France 789
7 Argentina 710
8 Colombia 701
9 Germany 663
10 Venezuela 592

Full list.

Perhaps to be expected the US has the most airports, but I did not expect it to be almost 18,000 more than the second placed country, Brazil. Although most of the airports in the US are classified a small (private) airports, 21.5k airports is still a huge number!

Worlds highest / lowest airports

elevation_rank type name country elevation_ft elevation_mt
1 heliport Siachen Glacier AFS Airport India 22000 6,706
2 small_airport Daulat Beg Oldi Advanced Landing Ground India 16200 4,938
3 small_airport Laguna Choclococha Airport Peru 14965 4,561
4 small_airport Fausa Airport Peru 14809 4,514
5 small_airport San Rafael Airport Peru 14422 4,396
46231 small_airport Brawley Municipal Airport United States -128 -39
46232 small_airport Ein Yahav Airfield Israel -164 -50
46233 small_airport Cliff Hatfield Memorial Airport United States -182 -55
46234 small_airport Furnace Creek Airport United States -210 -64
46235 medium_airport Bar Yehuda Airfield Israel -1266 -386

Full list.

To give this some perspective, Mount Everest stands at¬†8848¬†meters¬†— just 2000 meters¬†higher than Siachen Glacier AFS Airport, India. In fact, this airport (heliport) would rank just outside the top 100 highest mountains. Sadly, it only serves a military purpose, but all credit to the pilots flying at that elevation! The highest large airport is Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Peru at 3310¬†meters above sea level.

At the other end of the scale, Bar Yehuda Airfield in Israel lies 386 meters below sea level. The English Channel is only 120m deep.

Worlds longest runways

runway length rank type name country length_ft length_mt surface
1 seaplane_base Pontiac Airpark Water Aerodrome Canada 120,000 36,576 water
2 seaplane_base Gunflint Seaplane Base United States 30,000 9,144 water
3 seaplane_base Libby Camps Seaplane Base United States 26,000 7,925 water
4 seaplane_base Brookville Reservoir Seaplane Base United States 25,000 7,620 water
5 seaplane_base Long Lake Seaplane Base United States 25,000 7,620 water
6 seaplane_base Conchas Lake Seaplane Base United States 21,120 6,427 water
7 medium_airport Qamdo Bangda Airport China, People’s Republic of 18,045 5,500 concrete
8 seaplane_base Goddard Seadrome Seaplane Base United States 17,000 5,182 water
9 medium_airport Ulyanovsk East Airport Russia 16,404 5,000 concrete
10 medium_airport Pierre Van Ryneveld Airport South Africa 16,076 4,900 asphalt

Full list.

No that’s not a typo,¬†Pontiac Airpark Water Aerodrome has a runway that’s 36.5 km long (it is water runway for seaplanes). The longest traditional runway is at¬†Qamdo Bangda Airport in China at 5.5km. The runway needs to be so¬†long because of the¬†elevation of the airport (4333m). When the air is thinner (at altitude) it takes longer for a plane to take-off and land.

The runway at Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport in Saba (in the Caribbean) runs a mere¬†396m, making it the world’s shortest commercial runways (excluding heliports).

Improvements

I would be very interested in analysing how much traffic some of the runways with notable characteristics receive and any associated accident information, especially those with a high elevation.

tl;dr

The United States has 21.4k airports. That’s almost 18k more than any other country.

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

Concorde Would Still Beat Hyperloop

High-speed trains now compete with airlines for short-haul routes.

The fastest high-speed train in operation is limited by a maximum speed of 431 km/h, although trains have reached speeds of 603 km/h in testing.

Hyperloop is a proposed new mode of passenger and freight transportation that propels a pod-like vehicle through a near-vacuum tube at airline speeds. Top speeds of 1200 km/h have been touted. To put that in perspective a Boeing 777-200-LR, one of the fastest commercial jets in operation has a maximum operation speed of 1037 km/h.

What could a world with interconnected Hyperloop routes look like?

Methodology

Given Hyperloop is still in development phase, with some limited testing completed, much of this post takes into account assumptions about what is possible (speeds, geography, engineering limitations etc).

Many of the routes I’ve considered¬†are already in operation — served either by plane or train. Distances for these routes via Hyperloop are very rough given I have not considered geography in any detail. That said,¬†because of the physics involved Hyperloop needs a very straight track.

The aim of this post is to provide a basic overview of what could be made possible with Hyperloop.

Analysis

Maximum operating speeds

Max operating speed by mode of transport

Download chart.

The fastest of each mode of transport currently in operation are considered: Hyperloop, Boeing 777-200LR (plane), Shanghai Maglev (train).

Hyperloop is most similar to the existing train networks. The difference between current high-speed trains and Hyperloop is massive (1200 km/h vs. 431 km/h — almost 3 times faster.).

Average Speeds for Popular Air / Rail Routes

Plane vs train vs Hyperloop

Download chart.

For the above 5 routes, all of which show actual times for plane and train journeys, the train is always the slowest (almost twice as slow as a plane for most routes).

Travelling by plane would be¬†the second quickest option, with Hyperloop coming a clear first for all routes (in some cases Hyperloop is almost 4 times quicker on some routes — Paris to Lyon, and twice as quick as taking the plane on others).

It is important to note these figures only consider time spent moving, excluding check-in time, etc.

There are a number of cities currently considering implementing Hyperloop. LA to San Francisco, Dubai to Abu Dhabi, Helsinki to Stockholm, etc. Most of these routes are well below 1000km, as are the routes considered above with the exception of Beijing to Shanghai at just over 1000km apart. At an estimated $19.1 million USD per kilometre, cost is the biggest inhibiting factor to a longer Hyperloop routes at present.

Did you know? It will cost an estimated $2.65 billion USD ($19.1MM USD x 139km) to build a Hyperloop route between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Hyperloop potential

Concorde once circumnavigated the globe in 32 hours 49 minutes and 3 seconds, starting and ending its journey in New York, via Toulouse, Dubai, Bangkok, Guam, Honolulu, Acapulco, to refuel and then back to New York JFK (a total of 36,787.6 km).

Assuming Hyperloop took the same journey at its average estimated speed of 970 km/h (which unlike a plane would not need to account for refuelling time), it would take almost 38 hours (36787.6 km/970 km/h). That’s 5 hours slower than Concorde.

Hyperloop round the world

Full map.

The circumference of Earth at the equator is about 24,874 miles (40,030 km), but from pole-to-pole ‚ÄĒ the meridional circumference ‚ÄĒ Earth is only 24,860 miles (40,008 km) around. This shape, caused by the flattening at the poles, is called an oblate spheroid. A “true” round-the-world journey circling¬†the equator would take over 41.3 hours (40030 km¬†/970 km/h) at a cost to build of $764.6 billion USD (40030 km¬†* $19.1 million USD per km).

Improvements

As discussed, many of these calculations are very rough. When Hyperloop gets closer to a production version where better estimates are available the calculations used can be improved.

tl;dr

Concorde once circumnavigated the globe in 32 hours 49 minutes and 3 seconds, the same route on Hyperloop would take almost 38 hours.

Get the Data

 

1 Litre of Beer Costs Just 1 USD in Slovakia

Economists use a range of goods to gauge consumer prices in different countries around the world.

Beer is one consumable that can be used for such purposes, although not often omitted.

I believe this is because unlike a bottle of Coca-Cola, the local varieties of beer can result in significant price differences. Which left me wondering; where can you visit to find the cheapest beer?

Methodology

I used GoEuro’s Beer Price Index (2015 and 2016) for beer costs around the world. This index includes both supermarket and bar costs for a 33cl beer. GoEuro’s data¬†also calculates a mean average beer price¬†using the calculation (supermarket cost + bar cost) / 2.

Results

Cost of beer around the world 2016

Overall Average Price for Beer in USD 2016 Histogram

Download chart.

A 33cl beer will cost you anywhere between $1.14 and $6.59, on average. Lausanne, Switzerland is the most expensive where a beer at a bar will cost you $12.20. That’s over 6 times more expensive than the cheapest city for a beer at a bar, Kiev ($1.82).

Cheapest beers 2016

Beer Price Index 2016 map

Interactive map.

Overall rank (overall ave) City Country Average Price for 33cl Beer (Supermarket) in USD Average Price for 33cl Beer (Bar) in USD Overall Average Price in USD Bar – supermarket diff Bar – supermarket diff pc
1 Bratislava Slovakia 0.35 1.93 1.14 1.58 451.43%
2 Kiev Ukraine 0.47 1.82 1.15 1.35 287.23%
3 Cape Town South Africa 0.46 2.12 1.29 1.66 360.87%
4 Krakow Poland 0.57 2.02 1.30 1.45 254.39%
5 Mexico City Mexico 0.46 2.48 1.47 2.02 439.13%
6 Belgrade Serbia 0.30 2.73 1.52 2.43 810.00%
7 Cairo Egypt 0.69 2.61 1.65 1.92 278.26%
8 Warsaw Poland 0.60 2.79 1.70 2.19 365.00%
8 Ljubljana Slovenia 0.75 2.64 1.70 1.89 252.00%
10 Budapest Hungary 0.28 3.13 1.71 2.85 1017.86%

Full list.

Most of the cities in the top 10 (7) are all found in Eastern Europe. In Bratislava, Slovakia a 33cl beer can be bought for $0.35. At a bar in Bratislava the same beer might cost you $1.58 — a 451% increase! In Budapest the difference between supermarket ($0.28) and bar ($3.13) is 1018% (Paris is the worst — a 1270% increase).

Year-on-year beer price changes

2015 - 2016 beer price change

Download chart.

Price change rank City Country Overall Average Price % Change 15/16
1 Rio de Janeiro Brazil -43.27%
2 Geneva Switzerland -42.80%
3 Munich Germany -42.05%
4 Cape Town South Africa -39.72%
5 Bucharest Romania -37.81%
6 Ljubljana Slovenia -37.34%
7 Tel Aviv Israel -37.10%
8 Dublin Ireland -34.32%
9 San Francisco United States -34.01%
10 Barcelona Spain -33.90%

Full list.

GoEuro’s price index records beer prices falling in 63 of 64 cities between 2015 and 2016! Only Malaga in Spain saw beer prices increase, by 23% — sorry packaged holiday makers.

The fall in beer prices was actually fairly significant with an average price decrease of 24%. The top 10 cities ranked by falling beer price all saw price decreases of over 30%. In Rio De Janeiro, Geneva, and Munich average beer prices fell by over 40%! Oktoberfest is looking cheap in 2017!

Beer consumption 2016

Beer consumption 2016 map

Interactive map.

Did you know? Out of the 70 countries considered in GoEuro’s Beer Price Index, the top beer consumers in 2016 were: 1) Czech Republic (144 litres person / year), 2) Poland (127), 3) Serbia (119).

Biggest spenders on beer 2016

Average spend on beer consumption 2016

Download chart.

Av spend rank City Country Av. Annual Consumption Per Capita (litres) Av. annual spend per capita (Supermarket only) Av. annual spend per capita (Bar only) Av. annual spend per capita (average)
1 Lausanne Switzerland 56 166.30 2,070.30 1,118.30
2 Helsinki Finland 105 381.82 1,753.18 1,067.50
3 Sydney Australia 99 540.00 1,398.00 969.00
4 New York United States 85 265.30 1,645.91 955.61
5 Miami United States 85 182.88 1,602.12 892.50
6 Toronto Canada 116 376.12 1,395.52 885.82
7 Prague Czech Republic 144 318.55 1,444.36 881.45
8 Venice Italy 106 212.00 1,532.18 872.09
9 Moscow Russia 106 395.09 1,323.39 859.24
10 Frankfurt Germany 107 220.48 1,420.18 820.33

Full list.

Whilst Czech Republic, Poland, and Serbia have the highest beer consumption per capita, the relatively cheap price of beer means that they don’t spend as much ($881 per year, $652 and $546 respectively).

Unsurprisingly Lausanne, Switzerland Рwhere a beer at a bar can cost you more than $12 Рcomes out top for most spent per person on beer each year at $1,118 (even though consumption is relatively low at only 56 litres p/person p/year).

Improvements

GoEuros dataset has aggregated beer prices. Having access to the raw dataset with prices by brand would be particularly useful in comparing like-for-like differences in prices around the world.

tl;dr

33cl of beer is cheapest in Bratislava, Slovakia at an average cost of $1.14 ($0.35 in a supermarket or $1.93 in a bar).

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

There Is Almost 2 Trillion USD of Planes in Our Skies

$1,911,494,699,999 USD to be exact.

I don’t need to tell you jet planes are expensive. Very expensive. Spoiler alert: you (probably) can’t afford one.

That said, commercial airliners are abundant as a quick look on Flightradar24 will confirm.

At hundreds-of-millions a piece; what is the value of the current fleet of commercial airliners in the sky?

Methodology

I used the average cost of a commercial jet model as supplied by the manufacturers who dominate the commercial market, Airbus and Boeing.

Fleet data was obtained from AirFleets for the SkyTrax top 100 airlines (2015).

Total price values were calculated using average cost of model and most popular model variation in operation. For example, count of the more popular A350-800 was used over the A350-1000 variant.

Aircraft data (seat numbers) was obtained from Wikipedia.

Analysis

Most expensive planes

Average-cost-of-airplane-by-family1

Download chart.

Unsurprisingly the massive Airbus A380 is the most expensive commercial airliner. All of the top 10 planes by price are worth more than $300 million USD each.

Most expensive cost per seat

Aircraft-cost-per-seat-USD-millions2

Download chart.

The A380 represents represents a high cost efficiency per seat (rank 15th @ 0.82$ million USD / seat).

The A350-1000, 777-9, and 777-200LR all have per seat values of over $1 million USD (cost / number of seats). This is a rough calculation assuming the maximum number of seats are installed (in many cases this does not happen).

Total value of planes by type

Total-value-of-commercial-airliners

Download chart.

Did you know? The cost of planes for all of SkyTraxs top 100 airlines (new) is $1,911,494,699,999 USD. 

The Boeing 777 ($340 million / each), 1214 in operation , have a cumulative new value of $412,274,400,000 USD (412 USD billion).

The cheaper 737s ($110 million / each), of which there are 3471 planes in the sky (25% of all commercial aircraft) (almost 3x the 777), have a total combined value of $381,810,000,000 USD (382 USD billion). Southwest operates 710 737s. Bought new these would cost $78,100,000,000 USD (78 USD billion).

Boeing versus Airbus

Boeing Airbus total value

Download chart.

Although Airbus offers the most expensive plane for sale (the A380 @ $432 million USD), the new cost of all Boeing planes in the sky is much higher than Airbus.

There are over $1 trillion USD of planes flying from Boeing (one trillion sixty-eight billion seven hundred thirty-one million seven hundred thousand), whilst Airbus has just $800 billion USD (eight hundred forty-two billion seven hundred sixty-three million).

Improvements

All the calculations and variable values (plane cost, seats on aircraft, ticket cost, etc) are nowhere near accurate and should only be taken as a generalisation.

Should true data be obtainable, values for these variables would greatly improve the accuracy of all data and calculations used in this post.

tl;dr

The cost of planes for all of SkyTraxs top 100 airline (new) is $1,911,494,699,999 USD. 

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

Go to Iran, Be A Millionaire for Just 31 USD

Travelling¬†between countries can be disorientating. Changes in currency values can be a major contributing factor. A bottle of Coca-Cola might be¬†$1 USD in America, but Ô∑ľ14,000 IRR in Iran (only $0.43 USD).

Much of this can be solved using a simple currency conversion app on your phone. After a few days you’ll master the mental arithmetic to perform currency conversions instantly in your head.

Thinking about the value of different currencies, I started to wonder; where could I be a millionaire, or even billionaire?

Methodology

I collected worldwide currency values against the USD from XE.com at 14:00 GMT 19/01/2017 for comparison.

Results

Strongest currencies – GBP vs USD

I¬†couldn’t start this post without mentioning Brexit. Specifically the negative impact it has had on my worldwide purchasing power (I get paid in GBP).

GBP USD Feb 2017

Latest data.

And it’s not just Brexit. My trips to the US are 80% more expensive when compared to 2007, before the housing crisis. As of writing this, ¬†1 USD = 0.8 GBP. Either way, I’m a millionaire in neither currency.

Strongest currencies vs USD

The GBP is one of the strongest currencies against the USD at the moment,

Value rank vs USD US Dollar 1 USD feb192017 1 USD inverse feb192017 1000000 USD feb192017 1000000 USD inverse feb19 2017
1 Kuwaiti Dinar 0.305627 3.271965 305627 3271965
2 Bahraini Dinar 0.377039 2.652243 377039 2652243
3 Omani Rial 0.385253 2.595695 385253 2595695
4 Latvian Lat 0.661973 1.510636 661973 1510636
5 British Pound 0.805704 1.24115 805704 1241150
6 Euro 0.941908 1.061675 941908 1061675

Full table.

You probably won’t be a USD millionaire in Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Latvia, or the Euro-zone countries either. In Kuwait 1 million USD is worth around 306K Kuwaiti Dinar. You’d need 3.27 million USD to be a Kuwaiti Dinar millionaire. These are the only 6 major currencies that are currently stronger than the USD.

Weakest Currencies РIRR vs USD

usd to irr feb 2017

Latest data.

The Iranian Rial is currently the weakest currency against the USD. The currency has an interesting story.¬†The Iranian Rial was devalued in July 2013 to half its previous value as the government reduced subsidisation of the exchange rate against the dollar.¬†Recently, in December 2016, the Iranian government announced the country’s currency will be changed from the rial to the commonly used Toman. As of writing this decision still needs Parliament’s approval.

1 USD will buy you 32420 IRR. 31 USD will buy you 1 million USD. 1 million USD will buy thirty-two billion four hundred twenty million IRR!

Weakest currencies vs USD

Value rank vs USD US Dollar 1 USD feb192017 1 USD inverse feb192017 1000000 USD feb192017 1000000 USD inverse feb19 2017
51 Chilean Peso 644.1 0.001553 644100000 1553
52 South Korean Won 1150.45 0.000869 1150450000 869
53 Colombian Peso 2886.5 0.000346 2886500000 346
54 Indonesian Rupiah 13341.1 0.000075 13341100000 75
55 Iranian Rial 32420 0.000031 32420000000 31

Full table.

The Iranian Rial is by far the weakest currency versus the USD. The Indonesian Rupiah comes out second worst with an exchange rate of 1 USD = 13300 IDR. 75 USD would buy you millionaire status in Indonesia.

Improvements

I have completely ignored purchasing power of a currency. As discussed a bottle of Coke in Iran will cost you¬†14,000 IRR — it wouldn’t be hard to blow 1 million in a single day.

tl;dr

Go to Iran with 31 USD, become a IRR millionaire.

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

Burn 12000 Calories A Week Skiing

Skiing is the greatest winter sport. End of discussion.

Enjoying the clean, fresh air whilst rushing down the side of the mountain is exhilarating. Who said exercise was boring?

Skiing 6 hours a day can make you very tired, and very hungry.

Which left me questioning; just how much food do you need to eat to replenish the calories burnt skiing?

Methodology

Using GPS data collected from a recent 6 day ski holiday I was able to obtain the daily distances skied and then best guess my exertion level.

I was then able to use this data with standard exercise / calorie information available on CalorieLab to estimate how many calories I used up each day.

Analysis

Calorie expenditure

Minutes Skiing by Exertion by Day

Download chart.

The data was collected using the Ski Tracks app (Android & iOS). Ski time only includes time spent descending. Ski exertion is best guess (40% time = light, 50% t = moderate, 10% t = vigorous).

According to NHS guidance the average male needs 2500 kCal per day to maintain their weight, or for the sake of this analysis have a kCal neutral balance. For simplicity, lets assume my daily energy requirements are 2500 kCal + energy spent skiing only.

My vital stats used to calculate calorie expenditure on CalorieLab: sex = male, weight = 70kg.

kCal Burned Skiing by Day

Download chart.

Did you know: A 70kg male can expend almost 3000 kCal moderately skiing for 5 hours (500 * 5.83 kCal p/min).

On Sunday 23rd January 2016, it is estimated I expended the¬†highest number of Kilo Calories (kCal) skiing (1777.4 kCal), with estimated daily kCal expenditure falling slightly with each day — something I put down to fatigue. My average estimated daily kCal¬†burned skiing was about 1676 kCal (8380 kCal week total).

Calorie intake

Food / Drink Serving Size kCal
Carlsberg (lager) 470ml (pint) 180
Cheese, Gruyere 10g 122
Red Wine 12.5cl (glass) 85
Domino’s Original Cheese & Tomato Large Classic Crust Pizza Slice 183
Oatmeal 100g 375
Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnut Doughnut 222
Morrisons In Store Bakery Artisan Baguette 0.25 baguette 246

Full table.

To put this into perspective, you can see from the NHS Choices Calories Calculator how calorific classic skiing fare is.

A¬†particularly calorific¬†food diary from a skiing companion of mine saw an average intake of over¬†4000kCal, though I’m not naming anyone. On¬†one day this figure was¬†4727 kcal! In his¬†very weak defence, using my¬†calorie¬†neutral daily average of 4369 kCal this was¬†only a surplus of 358 kCal (4727 – 4369), or two pints of beers (360 kCal).¬†With a more controlled diet he could maintain a high daily kCal deficit and potentially lose weight.

Effects of altitude

There is not a huge difference in the amount of calories utilised at a higher altitude during exercise even though it may feel as though you are working much harder. The few extra calories burned will be a result of increased breathing to get more oxygen into the body, which means increased work by the rib cage and other muscles involved in ventilation (which are all relatively small).

Returning home

Some would argue the biggest danger is¬†continuing such a diet upon your return home. 4727 kCal is almost twice the daily recommendation of 2500 kCal,¬†a difference of 2227 kCal — one that¬†would¬†quickly¬†start resulting in weight gain.

Improvements

The science behind calorific burn is a confusing area to research due to the many conflicting arguments. Clearly, this is a very inaccurate analysis for the most part. By adding in additional variables to my calculations – like heart rate, temperature, etc – rather than just time would likely produce some very different results.

tl;dr

5 hours of continuous moderate skiing can burn almost 3000 kCal. Or 16 pints of beer (@180 kCal p/pint).

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.