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 feb 192017 1 USD inverse feb 192017 1000000 USD feb 192017 1000000 USD inverse feb 19 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 feb 192017 1 USD inverse feb 192017 1000000 USD feb 192017 1000000 USD inverse feb 19 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.

Pay Off A Mortgage In Less Than 3 Years As An Airbnb Host

Micro-housing markets around the world change the shape of local communities. Those with skyrocketing costs, London or San Francisco for example, are starting to see an exodus of young people. Whilst Detroit, with comparatively low housing costs, is seeing an influx of younger people.

In San Francisco it will cost you on average $199 USD per night (April 2016) to rent a 1 bedroomed apartment in the city using Airbnb. If you’re spending this much a night on accommodation you quickly start doing some back-of-napkin maths. At 100% occupancy that’s a gross rental income of $6169. Even at 50% occupancy that’s still well over $3000 USD per month.

Now, anyone who lives in San Francisco will tell you long-term rent is expensive too. The average traditional rental price for a 1 bedroomed property is $2850 USD according to Zillow. In this case subletting on Airbnb at 50% occupancy would leave a gross profit of $150 USD (before taxes, utilities, etc are factored in). If you owned the property, the profit (even with a mortgage) would likely be much greater.

But where are hosts making the most money?

Methodology

Using Airdna data I examined the average nightly cost of “Entire place” for studio, one, and two bedroomed rentals on Airbnb (house and apartment) during the month of April 2016 for 30 of the largest metro areas in the United States. My calculations factor in the Airbnb service fee, however ignore utility costs (and other associated fees) to the hosts (thus, returns should be¬†considered as gross).

Occupancy rates for Airbnb rentals are harder to find and vary significantly as a result of a number of factors, namely time and location. However, after researching a number of sources online I came up with average occupancy figures of between 50% Р75%, like this Quora answer for NYC and this SmartAsset blog post, as a base estimate.

I then turned to Zillow to obtain both average April 2016 rental values and average April 2016 property values for the same 30 metro areas.

Analysis

Buy-to-Airbnb (1 bedroom)

Property prices in some cities have increased wildly over the last few years. Take San Francisco, CA, a new one bedroomed home will set you back over $500K USD. In Cleveland, OH you could buy 8 homes with that money with some left over (average 1 bedroomed cost = $63.3K USD).

Highest ROI Cities

1 BR purchase price rank (April 2016) 1BR ROI Rank (April 2016) 1BR Actual Earnings Rank (April 2016) RegionName Buy 1 BR ROI Yr @ 50% occ (April 2016) Buy 1 BR ROI Yr @ 75% occ (April 2016)
30 1 20 Cleveland, OH 22.72% 35.65%
27 2 15 Tampa, FL 21.52% 33.83%
26 3 23 Pittsburgh, PA 19.50% 31.19%
29 4 26 San Antonio, TX 18.74% 29.71%
28 5 28 Orlando, FL 18.04% 28.68%
24 6 21 Cincinnati, OH 17.88% 28.17%
22 7 10 Houston, TX 17.78% 27.87%
18 8 6 Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL 16.48% 25.75%
21 9 17 Las Vegas, NV 16.40% 26.14%
23 10 27 St. Louis, MO 14.95% 23.79%

Full list.

Cleveland, OH, the cheapest city to buy a 1 bedroomed place on our list ($63.3K USD) gives a 26% yearly return at 50% occupancy. At 75% this increases to 36% — in 3 years the Airbnb revenues would exceed the purchase price of the property!

In comparison, San Francisco, CA, the most expensive place to by a property, offers average returns of around 6% – 9% yearly to homeowners renting property using Airbnb.

Own 1 BR Yearly Airbnb ROI @ 75% Occupancy

Download chart.

All owners hosting on Airbnb at 50% occupancy will make a gross profit. The best ROI for 1 bedroomed places is generally found in the cities with lower property values. The spread of returns at 75% occupancy is between 9% and 36% yearly. At 50% occupancy this drops to 5% and 22%.

Buy-to-Airbnb (2 bedroom)

Highest ROI Cities

2 BR purchase price rank (April 2016) 2BR ROI Rank (April 2016) 2BR Actual Earnings Rank (April 2016) RegionName Buy 2 BR ROI Yr @ 50% occ (April 2016) Buy 2 BR ROI Yr @ 75% occ (April 2016)
30 1 21 San Antonio, TX 30.62% 47.53%
22 2 23 Orlando, FL 29.72% 46.21%
20 3 11 Detroit, MI 29.45% 46.77%
27 4 15 Cincinnati, OH 27.78% 43.01%
16 5 7 Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL 27.65% 42.51%
21 6 25 Tampa, FL 26.92% 41.92%
28 7 26 Pittsburgh, PA 25.81% 40.64%
24 8 17 Houston, TX 23.81% 36.92%
29 9 29 Cleveland, OH 23.42% 36.70%
17 10 18 Las Vegas, NV 23.25% 36.42%

Full list.

Detroit, a city that¬†has been in decline over the past few decades, is beginning to see somewhat of a resurgence. Whilst the city is not the cheapest to purchase a 2 bedroomed property (ranked 20/30), it ranks high for actual Airbnb dollar earning (11/30) and offers the third highest yearly ROI¬†at 30% and 46% at 50% and 75% occupancy respectively. I don’t have the data to back up wether these¬†occupancy statistics are¬†easily realised, but 50% occupancy seems relatively low to¬†me (for an average property in a big¬†city, competition not considered).

Own 2 BR Yearly Airbnb ROI @ 75% Occupancy

Download chart.

And such high returns are not unique. The median return for 2 bedroomed places at 75% occupancy is over 30% —¬†that equates to 15 properties out of 30 returning more than 30% of their value each year.

Buy-to-Airbnb (summary)

Median returns by occupancy and home size buyers (April 2016)

Download chart.

You can see the gross return on 1 bedroomed properties in most cities is roughly 10% less than 2 bedroomed properties.

Rent-to-Airbnb (1BR)

Highest ROI Cities

1BR rent rank 1BR actual earning rank 1BR ROI rank Region Name Rent 1 BR ROI Yr @ 50% occ USD Rent 1 BR ROI Yr @ 75% occ USD
30 21 1 Cincinnati, OH 99.21% 198.81%
27 21 2 Cleveland, OH 72.51% 158.77%
28 27 3 St. Louis, MO 66.93% 150.39%
24 13 4 Las Vegas, NV 66.80% 150.20%
25 20 5 Pittsburgh, PA 59.32% 138.98%
29 30 6 Detroit, MI 51.59% 127.39%
22 16 7 Tampa, FL 51.30% 126.96%
26 26 8 San Antonio, TX 49.30% 123.95%
3 1 9 Boston, MA 45.67% 118.51%
23 25 10 Phoenix, AZ 40.91% 111.36%

Full list.

Your first observation is that ROI will be much higher for renters (but remember we are only considering rent for a year which is significantly less than the cost of buying a property).

Returns of almost 200% can are obtainable if renters are able to sub-let their 1 bedroomed home for 75% of the year. The top ten cities above all have ROI greater than 100%.

1BR rent rank 1BR actual earning rank 1BR ROI rank Region Name Rent 1 BR ROI Yr @ 50% occ USD Rent 1 BR ROI Yr @ 75% occ USD
8 9 27 Seattle, WA -3.54% 44.69%
5 7 28 Washington, DC -5.04% 42.43%
4 4 29 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA -6.42% 40.36%
1 2 30 San Francisco, CA -10.19% 34.71%

Full list.

Unlike buying, I have calculated that it is likely you could lose money subletting your home (based on rent paid for the year). In 4 cities, subletting with less than 50% occupancy yields¬†returns less than total rent paid. That means if you sublet on Airbnb in San Francisco and your occupancy rate is 50% for the month, you will have to cover 10.19% of the rent yourself — essentially you pay 10% of total rent to stay in the home 50% of the time. Not a bad deal.

Rent 1 BR Airbnb ROI @ 75% Occupancy

Download chart.

At 75% occupancy renters in all cities subletting their home will receive positive returns with a huge spread returns of between 35% and 200%.

Rent-to-Airbnb (2BR)

Highest ROI Cities

2BR rent rank 2BR actual earning rank 2BR ROI rank RegionName Rent 2 BR ROI Yr @ 50% occ USD Rent 2 BR ROI Yr @ 75% occ USD
28 15 1 Cincinnati, OH 122.09% 233.14%
25 9 2 Detroit, MI 114.77% 222.16%
26 17 3 Las Vegas, NV 99.41% 199.12%
29 27 4 St. Louis, MO 86.08% 179.12%
4 1 5 Boston, MA 85.27% 177.91%
24 21 6 San Antonio, TX 82.46% 173.70%
15 8 7 Baltimore, MD 73.43% 160.14%
19 14 8 Charlotte, NC 66.95% 150.42%
22 21 9 Phoenix, AZ 66.85% 150.27%
23 25 10 Pittsburgh, PA 61.67% 142.50%

Full list.

As was the case for property owners, sub-letters of 2 bedroomed homes¬†get better returns when compared with 1 bedroomed homes — in Detroit returns are 55% higher. All cities yield positive returns at both 50% and 75% occupancy for 2 bedroomed homes.

Again Cincinnati offer sub-letters the best returns for 2 bedroomed places, as was true for 1 bedroomed homes.

Rent 2 BR Airbnb ROI @ 75% Occupancy

Download chart.

Most returns are between the 60% – 180% range at 75% occupancy.

Rent-to-Airbnb (summary)

Median returns by occupancy and home size renters (April 2016)

Download chart.

Sub-letters see a larger difference in returns on property sizes. 2 bedroomed homes¬†offer much better returns than 1 bedroomed homes — at 75% occupancy returns for 2 bedroomed places are almost 40% higher.

Improvements

I didn’t consider utilities — a major overhead for hosts. I have obtained numbers on Numbeo which puts average rents in these cities at about $2360 yearly, a range of between $1938 USD¬†(San Diego) – $3936 USD (Detroit).

That said, my calculation did not consider cleaning fees, which can amount to $100’s per month, and thus potentially offsetting utility costs incurred.

For a more accurate comparison, both of these factors should be considered.

tl;dr

Airbnb hosts renting 2 bedroomed homes make more money than 1 bedroomed homes. In many cases hosts subletting can pay their yearly rent twice over from Airbnb yields. Likewise many homeowners in the cities analysed could make the purchase price of their home in only a few years through Airbnb guests.

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

Size Matters: How Airline Size Affects Customer Satisfaction

When I think of many large corporations I think of commodity products rather than quality. Most airlines these days are large corporations Рor part of a group of airlines Рwith thousands of staff around the world.

As a measure of size, it is the older carriers that have the largest fleets of aircraft (1. American, 2. Delta, 3. United).

Does the size of an airline affect brand image, or more importantly, passenger satisfaction?

Methodology

Skytrax is arguably the most well know measure of airline rankings. Released every year since 2012, I am using the latest 2016 version. In their own words the Skytrax ranking is a: ¬†“Quality analysis across hundreds of categories for both airline product and service delivery, covering the Onboard and home-base Airport environments.”

Similarly Airhelp produces their own AirHelp Score that ranks airlines on three measures: quality and service, on-time performance, and the ease of making a claim (for delayed flights, etc).

Using data from Airfleets (April 2016) I was able to measure an airline by size of its fleet. My assumption is that airlines with larger fleets will have the more staff.

I did consider using market capitalisation as a measure of size but due to differences in company dynamics (airline groups, traded on different markets / volumes, etc) I decided against doing so.

Results

Airlines with most aircraft

Count of aircraft top 10 by fleet size

Download chart.

The top 4 airlines by fleet size are all based in the US. They are also considerably larger than the next biggest airline, China Southern (who operate 200 fewer planes).

Airline Fleet Rank (04/16) Skytrax rank 2016 AirHelp Score rank (Autumn 16)
American Airlines 1 77 28
Delta Air Lines 2 35 31
United Airlines 3 68 16
Southwest Airlines 4 66 #N/A
China Southern Airlines 5 32 66
China Eastern Airlines 6 79 74
Air China 7 87 77
Turkish Airlines 8 7 60
Lufthansa 8 10 11
British Airways 10 26 12

Full list.

Only one of the top 10 airlines by fleet size is in the Skytrax top 10, Turkish (7th). None of the 10 airlines with the largest fleets make the AirHelp Score top 10.

Histogram of airline fleet size

Download chart.

The top 10 airlines by fleet size are considerably larger than the competition. Most airlines (83/100) operate less than 200 planes, 53 operate fewer than 100.

Skytrax 2016 Top 10

Skytrax ranking 2016 - Top 10 changes since 2012

Download chart.

Download the full Skytrax Top 100 ranking.

Qatar has held either the 1st or 2nd spot in the Skytrax ranking since 2012 (currently ranked 2nd). Emirates, currently ranked 1st, has seen a more turbulent rise to the top (placed 8th in 2012, 4th in 2014, and 5th in 2015).

Airline Fleet Rank (04/16) Skytrax rank 2016 AirHelp Score rank (Autumn 16)
Emirates 11 1 12
Qatar Airways 18 2 1
Singapore Airlines 40 3 4
Cathay Pacific Airways 31 4 7
ANA All Nippon Airways 16 5 #N/A
Etihad Airways 34 6 #N/A
Turkish Airlines 8 7 60
EVA Air 57 8 #N/A
Qantas Airways 38 9 #N/A
Lufthansa 8 10 11

Full list.

5 of the top 10 Skytrax ranked airlines are ranked 30th and below for fleet size. This suggests smaller airlines offer better service. Conversely, for the airlines where an AirHelp Score exists many rank fairly highly. The anomaly being Turkish Airlines who have the 6th largest fleet size, a Skytrax rank of 7th, but a very poor AirHelp Score ranked 60th.

AirHelp Score Autumn 2016 Top 10

Airscore ranking 2016 Top 10 changes

Download chart.

Download the full AirHelp Score ranking.

Qatar ranks perfectly in 1st for all periods of the AirHelp Score ranking, beating its Skytrax rankings. Virgin Atlantic has seen the best improvement of AirHelp Score rank moving from 38th – 6th position in just one year!

Airline Fleet Rank (04/16) Skytrax rank 2016 AirHelp Score rank (Autumn 16)
Qatar Airways 18 2 1
Austrian 54 19 2
Air Dolomiti #N/A #N/A 2
Singapore Airlines 40 3 4
KLM 23 24 5
Virgin Atlantic 76 28 6
Cathay Pacific Airways 31 4 7
Air Canada 15 31 7
Air Baltic #N/A #N/A 7
Finnair 70 27 10

Full list.

Again, most of the airlines in the AirHelp Score top 10 are smaller airlines (8 are ranked 30th and below by fleet size). That said, many of these airlines are brand names in the industry.

Improvements

Skytrax and Airhelp rankings are good baselines to understand customer satisfaction, however, only give and aggregated of customer satisfaction. Delays, number of flights, food quality are raw metrics that will give a better view of where airlines perform best.

tl;dr

Larger airlines (by fleet size) tend to offer worse service than their smaller counterparts.

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

Airlines Are Undercharging You For Fuel

Taxes, duty, surcharges… passenger facility charges.

Airline tickets are a lot more than just a standard fare. For most consumers the fare breakdown is a non-issue because the total fare is shown clearly at time of purchase (you may never even see the fare breakdown).

Some including taxes imposed by governments are fixed. Even if the airline thinks they’re unreasonable they still have to pay.

Items like Fuel Surcharge are less defined as they are set by individual airlines; but how closely do they correlate to actual fuel cost for the journey?

Methodology

I recently flew from London to Qatar and was charged a Fuel Surcharge.

Using data about plane efficiency found on Wikipedia and fuel costs from IATA (Oct 2016 @ 1.42 USD / gal) I was able to estimate the amount of fuel used for the journey, the estimated total cost of fuel, and how it differed from the Fuel Surcharge charged.

Because airlines rarely share actual passenger numbers my calculations assume passenger load factor (percentage of seat capacity utilised) = 100% (even though aircraft rarely operate at 100% capacity). For example, the PLF for British Airways in 2014 was about 81% (although some of their popular routes operate at 99%!).

It is also worth noting, thousands of unique factors affect actual fuel economy: payload weight, weather conditions, delays, required additional fuel for safety regulations, etc that I could not account for.

Results

Fuel Surcharges

Fuel Surcharges are often coded as YQ or YR on tickets. Fuel surcharges were introduced in the early to mid-2000s when the price of oil soared.

Many people incorrectly confuse the Fuel Surcharge as the actual fuel cost.

“A fuel surcharge is a way of adjusting the amount paid to move freight [persons] by taking into account significant variation in fuel prices, compared to historical levels. It is a method for sharing or transferring risk.”
Supply Chain 24/7

A Fuel Surcharge is designed to cover the varying fuel cost of flying you to your destination, but it is not the actual fuel cost.

If you think about this more deeply, charging an actual fuel cost would be impossible due to fluctuations in fuel price paid by the airline. Aircraft fuel has fallen by over 60% in the last two years alone. But are airlines passing these savings onto consumers?

Some sources claim¬†Fuel Surcharges are “not for fuel any more“, suggesting they account for¬†additional costs and operating margins. Other sources also claim airline Fuel Surcharges have no direct relationship to fuel cost.

Admission: This makes it almost impossible to calculate wether airlines are overcharging for fuel (because we don’t know what parts of the fare breakdown account for it). Though bear with me. Lets¬†hypothesises that¬†Fuel Surcharge has some relationship to fuel cost.

jet-fuel-price-2011-2015-travelstats1

Airline Opex

Airline Opex 2008

Download chart.

In 2008 fuel accounted for the third largest share of airline operating expenses at¬†32.3% for all major airlines¬†— in 2001 it was only 13.6%! More recent data would suggest fuel now¬†accounts for 27.6% of an airlines operating expenditure.

Actual Fuel Cost

My flights:

Route Aircraft Miles
LHR – DOH Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner 3,259
DOH – BKK Airbus A380-800 3,288
BKK – DOH Airbus A380-800 3,288
DOH – BKK Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner 3,259

Full table.

I was charged $230.68 USD in Fuel Surcharges for the round-trip, or $115.34 USD one-way (the total for the ticket was $671 USD, fuel surcharge is 29% of total cost).

To obtain the additional data required to estimate actual fuel costs I used:

  • Wikipedia:¬†average fuel efficiency for both these aircrafts, and many more.
  • IATA: jet fuel costs.

Did you know:¬†The Airbus A380’s fuel tank has a capacity of 320,000¬†litres (84,500¬†US Gal) of jet fuel —¬†most of which is stored in the wings!¬†In comparison, my old car had a¬†50L (13 US Gal) tank.¬†

The estimated actual fuel costs for my journey:

US Gal Needed p/Pax US Gal Needed Total
Boeing 787-8 (one-way) 37.03 8,814.11
Airbus A380 (one-way) 45.67 23,975.00
One-way 82.70 32,789.11
Round-trip 165.40 65,578.23

Fuel Hedging

Fuel surcharges introduced when oil prices were high have remained in place because most airlines hedged their fuel purchases.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reckons the final hedges which locked airlines into higher than market oil prices will unwind by mid-2016, increasing the potential for cheaper airfare towards the end of the year.

Overcharging for fuel

Per Pax Actual and Per Pax Fuel Surcharge

Download chart.

My¬†ticket was booked within 3 weeks of outbound travel (7 weeks of return travel). Given a Fuel Surcharge¬†“takes into account significant variation in fuel prices”,¬†I did¬†expect the estimated actual fuel¬†cost to vary slightly¬†given the current market conditions.

Assuming Fuel Surcharge = fuel cost, calculations based on the current jet fuel price (Oct 2016) ($1.42 / US Gal), I am being undercharged for fuel by $3.04 USD ($230.68 fuel surcharge -$233.72 actual fuel cost).

Remember this assumes a 100% passenger load factor, so it is very likely the airline is receiving less in total in Fuel Surcharges (e.g 80% load factor would equal 20% drop in total Fuel Surcharge). In such a case, it means I am actually being undercharged by an even greater amount.

As discussed, many people believe a Fuel Surcharge != fuel cost. However, it is interesting to note the difference between the two is almost 0. Whilst this is not very solid proof of a correlation, it would definitely indicate one.

So lets stick with the assumption that Fuel Surcharge = fuel cost. If the airline hedged at the 5 Year high in 2011 ($3.27 / US Gal) I would actually be underpaying by a whopping $307.52 USD ($230.68 -$538.20). Assuming the planes are operating at full capacity, that would be a total fuel underpayment for the journey of around $30,000 USD!

To add some balance, assuming the airline purchased fuel at the average price of these two values ($2.35 / US Gal Р2014 prices) I am underpaying $156.10 USD for my fuel surcharge ($230.68 Р$386.78).

Improvements

Instead of using fuel surcharge for comparison, I could use reported airline opex figures for fuel expenditure against ticket cost.

tl;dr

Your airline is¬†probably undercharging you¬†for fuel based on current¬†jet fuel prices (latest @ $1.36 – Nov 2016) — assuming fuel surcharge = fuel cost.¬†

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

26 Percent Of All Commercial Airliners are Boeing 737s

New planes like A380s, 787s, or if you’re really lucky, an A350, are great to fly on.

If you fly regularly, switching between old and new planes can make the differences in comfort seem even more acute. It’s not surprising frequent travellers often¬†book flights based on planes serving the route.

But what planes dominate the sky? And how old are they?

Methodology

I began by analysing airlines from Skytrax top 100 airlines 2015.

Using these 100 airlines, I then scraped data from Airfleets that documents every plane flown by each airline (April 2016).

Results

Aircraft flown by airlines

count of aircraft by airline top 10

Download chart.

New planes are expensive. A new 787-8 costs between $157-167MM USD. Owning or leasing a plane is a significant cost on any balance sheet.

Unsurprisingly, older airlines typically have larger fleets.

Did you know? The airlines with the most planes in their fleet are all American: 3. United Airlines (717), 2. Delta Airline (833), 1. American Airline (943).

Most common manufacturers

count of aircraft by manufacturer

Download chart.

Of the planes operated by the Skytrax top 100 airlines (12841), 5872 (45.73%) are built by Airbus and 5880 (45.78%) by Boeing Рa difference of just 8 planes!

The other manufacturers have about an 8% share of the market (1089) — Embraer is the third largest manufacture of planes in operation (418 / 3.26%).

Aircraft in operation

age since aircraft introduced vs count in operation top 10

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Rank by count Model Mfg Count of model Age since introduction (years) Percentage of total
1 737 Boeing 3337 34.45 25.99%
2 320 Airbus 2498 20.02 19.45%
3 777 Boeing 1131 15.62 8.81%
4 330 Airbus 1000 15.91 7.79%
5 321 Airbus 936 20.02 7.29%
6 319 Airbus 933 20.02 7.27%
7 170 – 195 Embraer 412 8.65 3.21%
8 767 Boeing 369 24.71 2.87%
9 757 Boeing 330 23.80 2.57%
10 747 Boeing 309 33.05 2.41%

Full ranking.

The most common models in operation are the Airbus 320 (19.5% / 2498 planes flying) and Boeing 737 (26% / 3337). They were first introduced 20 and 34 years ago respectively.

The Boeing 747 has long been the workhorse of the commercial airline industry (1543 orders, 1520 delivered). It is still commonly used by airlines (309 in operation / 2.41% market share) and some of these planes are over 20 years old (the 747-100 was first introduced in 1970, although none of these are still in service). Boeing has introduced newer iterations of the aircraft over the years, the most recent of which was the 747-8 in 2011 (although the model has received few orders).

Compare that to¬†Boeing’s newer 787¬†that has started to see an uptake in orders. The planes first commercial flight was in 2011 operated by ANA. That makes it just over 3 years old. That said, although the plane¬†might have better¬†entertainment systems and a smoother ride (boasting “Smoother Ride Technology”),¬†comfort in economy class on the 787 has received a significant amount of bad press.

Did you know? The most common models of planes in operation are: 3. Airbus A330 (7.79% market share / 1000 planes flying), 2. Airbus 320 (19.5% / 2498), 1. Boeing 737 (26% / 3337).

Airline fleets

The youngest plane in operation, the A350, is the only aircraft less then 1 year old. There are just 18 of these planes currently flying commercially.¬†Finnair has 4, Qatar Airways 8, TAM Airline 2, and Vietnam Airlines 4. Only the BEA Avro RJ100 (12), Airbus A310 (9), and Embraer 135 – 145 (6) are less common — and these are all planes approaching retirement.

Did you know? All of Southwest Airlines fleet is made up of Boeing 737s — that’s 710 planes. Only American Airlines (830 total / 269 are 737s) and United Airlines (717 / 311) have bigger fleets.

Full matrix.

Improvements

Instead of just comparing aircraft models, it would be useful to consider model variations (i.e Boeing 747-400 vs. 747-8). This way the age of fleet could be better considered.

tl;dr

The most common aircraft model in operation is the Boeing 737 (26% market share / 3337 planes) and was first introduced in 1968.

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

Go To Bangladesh And Never See Another Tourist

We’ve all been on holiday and complained¬†there are too many tourists (the British, anyway).

I once read¬†London was France’s 6th largest city. The Costa Del Sol on the Spain’s Southern Coast is a¬†mecca¬†for 300,000+ Brits seeking the sun each year.

Terms like tourist trap are now common among holiday makers. Though an increasing number of us are¬†actively seeking to avoid such traps.¬†Whole industries have sprung up around holidays “off-the-beaten-track”.

But where are the places with the fewest tourists numbers vs locals?

Methodology

Every year the UN World Tourism Organisation publishes a report titled “Tourism Highlights“. For this post I used the 2015 version (figure reported from 2013). The report contains tourism statistics for 217 countries, including inbound tourist arrivals and receipts. Using this data I was able to identify the countries that report the fewest tourists.

Using population statistics reported by the World Bank for 2013 I was then able to work out the number of inbound tourists compared to the native population of each country.

Analysis

Inbound tourism numbers

number of tourist arrivals 2013 map

Full size map.

top 10 countries with most inbound tourists 2013

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10 countries with least inbound tourists 2013

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Did you know? The 3 countries that received the most tourists in 2013 were: 1. France (83.6 mil arrivals), 2. United States (69.9), and 3. Spain (60.6).

Did you know? The 3 countries that received the fewest tourists in 2013 were: 191. Kiribati (6000 arrivals), 192. Marshall Islands (5000), 193. Tuvalu (1000).

Populations

population summary map

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10 countries with largest populations 2013

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10 countries with smallest populations 2013

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China and India have a combined population of 2.5 billion. About one-third of the world’s population. India’s population is expected to grow larger than China’s by 2022.

On the other end of the scale Nieu, Montserrat, and the Cook Islands have less than 20,000 native citizens. In total the 10 smallest countries have a combined population of 187,933 people (about the size of Sao Tome and Principe).

Did you know? The 3 countries with the largest populations are: 1. China (1.36 people), 2. India (1.29B), 3. USA (319M). 

Did you know? The 3 countries with the smallest populations are: 214. Tuvalu (9863 people), 215. Montserrat (4900), 216. Niue (1190).

Native Population vs. Tourists

tourist population ratio

Full size map.

Rank Destination Population Tourists (2013) Population – tourist diff Tourist:Population
1 Bangladesh 159,077,513 148,000 158,929,513 1,075
2 Congo, Dem. Rep. 74,877,030 191,000 74,686,030 392
3 Nigeria 177,475,986 600,000 176,875,986 296
4 Guinea 12,275,527 56,000 12,219,527 219
5 India 1,295,291,543 6,968,000 1,288,323,543 186
6 Niger 19,113,728 123,000 18,990,728 155
7 Ethiopia 96,958,732 681,000 96,277,732 142
8 Chad 13,587,053 100,000 13,487,053 136
9 Mali 17,086,022 142,000 16,944,022 120
10 Madagascar 23,571,713 196,000 23,375,713 120

Full ranking.

Bangladesh receives just 1 tourist for every 1075 native Bangladeshis (159M pop / 148K tourists).

Rank Destination Population Tourists (2013) Population – tourist diff Tourist:Population
184 Guam 167,543 1,334,000 -1,166,457 0.13
185 Turks and Caicos Islands 33,740 291,000 -257,260 0.12
186 Monaco 37,623 328,000 -290,377 0.11
187 Aruba 103,441 979,000 -875,559 0.11
188 Cook Is 10,900 121,000 -110,100 0.09
189 St. Maarten 40,917 467,000 -426,083 0.09
190 Brit. Virgin Islands 28,054 366,000 -337,946 0.08
191 St. Martin (French part) 31,530 490,000 -458,470 0.06
192 Macao SAR, China 577,914 14,268,000 -13,690,086 0.04
193 Andorra 72,786 2,328,000 -2,255,214 0.03

Full ranking.

Compare that to Andorra, population 73K, has 2.3 million visitors every year — a difference of about 2.2 million! That’s 1 tourist for every 0.03 of the population. In Macao the difference between population and tourists is 13.69 million (1 tourist:0.04 population).

Improvements

Comparing inbound tourists by nationality would add another dimension to this analysis.

tl;dr

The countries with the fewest tourists compared to native population: 1. Bangladesh (1 tourist: 1075 native population), 2. Democratic Republic of Congo (1:392), 3. Nigeria (1:296).

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

Greenland Has Grown By Over 20% During The Last 50 Years

‚ÄúPlanting the flag‚ÄĚ usually means making a claim to something, usually territory or land.

Throughout history men have ‚Äúplanted the flag‚ÄĚ claiming ownership in the name of the king, queen, country, church, etc. marking the land as their own.

If you’re planning to “plant a flag” and claim an¬†area of earth, time is running out. Marie Byrd Land and Bir Tawil Triangle are the only two land areas on Earth not claimed by any country.

The size of a countries land mass can vary for a number of reasons. Historically territorial disputes have seen land won and lost. The biggest risk to a countries land mass in the modern day is the sea, in some cases threatening a countries very existence.

But which countries have changed the most in size over the past 50 years?

Methodology

I used World Bank data that documents each countries land mass yearly since 1961.

To add additional context I used territorial disputes data found on Wikipedia.

Results

Land mass changes

count of countries that have changed in size

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Out of 223 countries, 37 decreased in land mass, 151 had no change and 20 grew.

land mass changes by sq km

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Most land mass changes were small +/-1K sq. km —¬†about half the size of Monaco.

Overall, total land mass of all countries shrunk 94K sq. km between 1961 and 2014.

land area changes by country

Full size map.

Growing countries

10 countries that have grown most in land mass

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Rank land area % change Country Name Land area diff (sq. km) 1961 – 2014 Land area % of total 1961 – 2014
1 Macao SAR, China 10.30 51.50
2 Greenland 68,750.00 20.12
3 Bahrain 80.00 11.59
4 Singapore 37.00 5.52
5 Hong Kong SAR, China 30.00 2.94
6 Korea, Rep. 1,006.00 1.04
7 Jordan 540.00 0.61
8 Hungary 490.00 0.54
9 Bosnia and Herzegovina 200.00 0.39
10 Uganda 710.00 0.36

Full ranking.

Greenland’s land mass has increased 68,750 sq. km since 1961 — about the size of the Republic of Ireland.¬†According to World Bank records the increase happened between 1996 and 1997 where land mass went from 341,700 sq. km to 410,450 — a 20% increase. I assume this is because of melting ice being officially recorded between these years.

Although Macao grew by only 10.3 sq. km this is a 50% increase in total land mass over the 53 year period.

Shrinking countries

10 countries that have shrunk most in land mass

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Rank land area % change Country Name Land area diff (sq. km) 1961 – 2014 Land area % of total 1961 – 2014
199 St. Kitts and Nevis -90.00 -25.71
200 Bhutan -8,606.00 -18.42
201 Ecuador -28,480.00 -10.29
202 Ethiopia -101,000.00 -9.17
203 Vietnam -15,420.00 -4.74
204 Channel Islands -4.00 -2.06
205 Bulgaria -2,070.00 -1.87
206 Seychelles -5.00 -1.09
207 Cuba -951.00 -0.89
208 Macedonia, FYR -210.00 -0.83

Full ranking.

Ethiopia has lost over 100K sq. km of it’s land mass since 1961.¬†The change happened between 1992 and 1993 where land mass went from 1.1M sq. km to 1M — a loss of over 9%!

The list of shrinking countries has 4 small island nations: St Kitts and Nevis, Channel Islands, Seychelles and Cuba. This is probably a result of rising sea levels. St Kitts and Nevis lost over 25% (90 sq. km) of it’s total land mass between 1961 – 2014.

The income factor

land area diff sq km 1961 2014

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It is low income areas that will feel the impacts the most from sea level rise as they are the least prepared (lots of settlements on coast, little funding for protection projects, etc.).

The World Bank’s income segmentation highlights how the low and middle income countries are¬†perhaps already suffering land losses as a result.

In total the world lost -34,218 sq. km of reported land mass between 1961 – 2014 — about a 0.07% total loss.

Territorial disputes

count of disputes by countries with more than 5 disputed territories

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78 countries have multiple active disputes for land. The US has the most active disputes (13), 6 of which are with Canada.

Did you know? France and Italy still dispute ownership of the Mont Blanc summit

disputed territories by region

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In total there are 159 active land disputes across the world.

Improvements

This post offers a very basic look at changing land masses with little context. Significant changes in land mass should be analysed alongside any relevant contextual information – sea level change, conflicts, etc… – to provide information on causation.

tl;dr

Ethiopia has shrunk the most in total land mass between 1961 and 2014 (-101,000 sq.km). St. Kitts and Nevis has shrunk the most as a % of total land mass (-26%).

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

$100 Per Week To Have Your Airbnb Cleaned in Miami

Airbnb rentals can be a great alternative to hotels, not least because they’re often cheaper.

As the company expands it’s reach into the global tourist market an ever increasing number of cities have hosts making their properties¬†available to rent through the company.

For travellers on a budget the choice of destination is often heavily weighted on cost of accommodation, one of the largest expenditure of any holiday.

So where can you find the cheapest Airbnb rentals?

Methodology

To draw up a list of cities for comparison I turned to GoEuro’s “Accommodation Price Index” published in 2016 (using data from 2014). This list of 150 cities consists of the top tourist destinations chosen based on several factors including hotel availability and size of hospitality industry.

I then turned to Airdna for data on Airbnb rentals.¬†I examined the average nightly cost of “Entire place” studio, one, and two bedroomed rentals on Airbnb (house and apartment) during the month of Feb¬†2016 (May 2016 for cleaning rates) for the cities collected from GoEuro. Airdna had data for 87 of the 150 cities listed on the Accommodation Price Index.

Many listings on Airbnb are not actively rented. Airdna has defined its own definition of what constitutes an “active” property. I am only considering “active” properties in this post, although admittedly I’m not 100% sure of the definition.

airbnb active rentals feb16

Full map.

Rank (most active rentals) City Active rentals total Feb16
1 London, UK 29718
2 Paris, France 29344
3 New York (Manhattan), USA 16648 (26795 NYC)
4 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 16057
5 Berlin, Germany 13931
6 Barcelona, Spain 13550
7 Rome, Italy 12383
8 Sydney, Australia 11800

Full ranking.

It is surprising more US cities are not on this list of most¬†active rentals, especially given this was the Airbnb’s first market. It is also surprising to see European cities, London and Paris, in first and second place respectively.

Analysis

Studio price index

Entire Studio House and Apartment Nightly Rental Ave USD Feb16

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Studios can be rented as cheaply as $26 USD before fees (St. Petersburg, Russia) although most rentals (58/87) have a nightly cost of between $35 – $75 USD.

Airdna studio rentals Feb16 Map

Full map.

Rank (most expensive) City Entire Studio (House & Apartment) Nightly Rental Ave USD Feb16
1 Manchester, UK 169.50
2 Singapore, Singapore 154.50
3 San Francisco, USA 153.50
85 Mumbai, India 31.50
86 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina 29.00
87 St. Petersburg, Russia 26.00

Full ranking.

San Francisco (2nd) and Singapore (3rd) are expensive places to live and as such would be expected to be cities with high rental values.

Manchester in 1st place ($169.50 USD p/night) almost $15 USD more than second placed Singapore ($154.50 USD) is¬†unexpected — not least because rents are on average 63% cheaper in Manchester than London (ranked 9th @ $109.50 USD p/night). My assumption for this would be that there is a greater supply of studios geared to transient populations in London, San Francisco, and Singapore. Whereas in Manchester¬†studios¬†are likely to be of¬†higher specification, more centrally located, and mainly designed for traditional renters. What do you think?

1 bedroom price index

Entire 1BR House and Apartment Nightly Rental Ave USD Feb16

Download chart.

There is a wider spread of prices for one bedroomed apartments compared to studios, perhaps because of more supply (greater choice), although this is just an assumption as Airdna only provides a single aggregated “active” rentals number for all property types.

airdna 1br rentals feb16 map

Full map.

Rank (most expensive) City Entire 1BR (House & Apartment) Nightly Rental Ave USD Feb16
1 San Francisco, USA 172.50
2 Boston, USA 167.50
3 New York (Manhattan), USA 164.50
85 Sochi, Russia 35.00
86 Budapest, Hungary 34.50
87 St. Petersburg, Russia 26.50

Full ranking.

In most cases, one bedroomed properties are around 14%¬†more expensive than studios. What constitutes a studio and a 1 bedroomed is somewhat of a grey area though. I’ve stayed in Airbnb rentals listed as 1 bedroomed that official measures would deem a studio. Frustrating, ever-so-slightly. However, could be one reasons that accounts for this ever-so-slight increase in cost.

2 bedroom price index

Entire 2BR House and Apartment Nightly Rental Ave USD Feb16

Download chart.

Whilst most 2 bedroomed places are below $200 USD p/night before fees, 5 cities have an average above this figure. 2 cities cost more than $300 USD a night, Dubai, UAE ($326.50 USD) and Frankfurt, ($311.50 USD).

airdna 2br rentals feb16 map

Full map.

Rank (most expensive) City Entire 2BR (House & Apartment) Nightly Rental Ave USD Feb16
1 Dubai, UAE 326.50
2 Frankfurt, Germany 311.50
3 Boston, USA 281.50
85 St. Petersburg, Russia 44.00
86 Sochi, Russia 40.50
87 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina 38.00

Full ranking.

At the other end of the scale, a 2 bedroomed places in Eastern Europe can be picked up very cheaply. The 10 cheapest cities for 2 bedroomed cities are all in Eastern Europe (all below $60 USD).

Cleaning fee index

Once you’ve got your heart set on a place, don’t forget to budget for the additional fees charged. These include a cleaning fee set by the host, and it’s not always as cheap as¬†you might expect.

Cleaning fees help hosts account for extra expenses they have getting their listing ready before guests arrive or after guests depart.
Airbnb

Ave Cleaning Fee USD May16

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You’re probably wondering what city has average cleaning fees that amass on average $100 USD per rental. That city would be Miami, USA.

airdna cleaning fees may16 map

Full map.

Rank (most expensive) City Ave Cleaning Fee USD May16
1 Miami, USA 100.00
2 Boston, USA 95.00
3 Ibiza, Spain 91.00
84 Bucharest, Romania 12.00
84 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina 12.00
87 Kiev, Ukraine 10.00

Full ranking.

You might notice that 2 of the top 3 cities with the highest cleaning fees could both be considered “party towns”, Miami and Ibiza. Parties = mess = more cleaning?

Improvements

Whilst this post identifies the most expensive cities in which to rent an Airbnb apartment, it does not look at potential profits hosts can achieve. Or put another way, the differences between cost of ownership or longterm rental against Airbnb income.

tl;dr

The cheapest “Entire¬†place” Airbnb rentals can be found in Eastern Europe. For a studio or 1 bedroomed place go to St. Petersburg, Russia (ave. $26 USD p/night exc. fees), and¬†Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina for 2 bedroomed places ($38 USD).

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

It’s Cheaper To Take An Uber To The Airport, And Back

Uber has been fighting continuing battles with major cities and their traditional licensed cab drivers for years now. In some cities this has resulted in legal rulings banning Uber drivers from operating completely.

However it’s not just cities taking aim at¬†the taxi app. Airports are also drawing battle lines with the company¬†in an effort to protect revenues.

The ease of catching a cab is often paramount for weary travellers, but many are still very price-sensitive even after the longest of flights.

But are the costs of Uber rides on fiercely competitive (and regulated) airport journeys cheaper then traditional taxis (as they are in cities)?

Methodology

I was able to calculate fares for Uber journey costs from airports on their website (UK & US) (April 2016).

These could then be compared with traditional taxi fare data available from TfL (UK) and Taxi Fare Finder (UK & US) (April 2016).

The Black Taxi

The Black Taxi an icon of London. In recent years Black Taxi drivers have been losing market share of passengers travelling overground to minicabs (often operated by taxi apps, like Uber). The situation is so bad, TfL (who operate Black Cabs), are struggling to recruit new Black Cab drivers.

Queue a fierce fight between TfL and Uber.

One that almost saw Uber being banned from the British capital altogether in 2015 but for a small technicality about wether the app constituted a taximeter. But technicalities aside; why are consumers switching to taxi apps?

Analysis

Uber Services

Uber vs Black Taxi Journey Costs in London

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Service Ave Fare (1 mile) GBP Ave Fare (2 mi) GBP Ave Fare (4 mi) GBP Ave Fare (6 mi) GBP
UberX 5.18 7.25 10.95 15.10
UberX (1.9x surge) 9.83 13.78 20.81 28.69
UberX (2.5x surge) 12.94 18.13 27.38 37.75
UberEXEC 9.25 13.30 20.50 28.60
UberLUX 13.78 20.35 31.85 45.00
UberXL 10.53 13.45 18.85 24.70
Black Taxi (Mon-fri (06:00-20:00)) 7.20 11.20 18.50 26.00
Black Cab (Mon-fri (20:00-22:00), Sat-sun (06:00-22:00)) 7.30 11.50 19.00 30.00

Full table.

UberX rides are generally cheaper than traditional Black Cabs, unless the dreaded surge pricing is in effect.

For example, the more expensive Black Taxi Fare would cost ¬£7.30 GBP to go 1 mile. An UberX would cost only ¬£5.18 GBP. However, during periods of high demand where 1.9x and 2.5x surge pricing is in effect the same journey would cost you ¬£9.83 GBP and ¬£12.94 GBP respectively through Uber — potentially well over twice the price of a Black Taxi.

Uber Services To / From London airports

Registered taxis in London (Hackney Carriages, not necessarily Black Taxis) have strictly regulated fares from its many airport into the city.

Uber vs Taxi cost from airport to Paddington Station, London

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London Heathrow (T5) – Paddington St GBP (ave) Gatwick South¬†— Paddington St GBP (ave) Stansted – Paddington St GBP (ave) Luton- Paddington St GBP (ave) City- Paddington St GBP (ave)
uberX 37.00 96.00 74.50 46.50 28.50
uberX (1.9x surge) 55.50 144.00 111.75 69.75 42.75
uberX (2.5x surge) 92.50 240.00 186.25 116.25 71.25
uberXL 56.00 149.50 114.00 89.50 40.00
UberEXEC 71.00 135.50 104.50 82.50 55.00
UberLUX 109.50 283.50 221.50 171.00 88.50
Taxi (Mon-fri (06:00-20:00)) 67.40 125.60 78.80 59.90 40.60

Full table.

Many registered taxis and private hire cars pay surcharges to airports (often passed on to passengers directly). Uber drivers are also liable for such charges.

Even so, UberX rides are considerably cheaper from all London airports — almost ¬£50 GBP cheaper from Gatwick South Terminal to Paddington Station.¬†Only recently did Uber scrap flat fees from London airports which could¬†have potentially made these journeys even cheaper.

Registered taxis sit somewhere between UberX and UberXL services, and are the second cheapest option when compared to the other services Uber offers.

Uber To / From US airports

Lets change colours to the bright yellow of the second most iconic taxi, the New York City Cab (and the less iconic taxis of San Francisco and Chicago). And yes, both these cities have had their disagreements (like the London Black Cabs), to put it lightly, with Uber.

Uber vs Taxi cost from US airport to major landmark

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JFK – Grand Central (ave) USD SFO – Market St (low) USD ORD – Chicago Union (ave) USD
uberX 59.00 25.00 33.00
uberXL 88.50 37.00 56.50
UberBLACK 116.50 68.00 88.00
UberSUV 145.50 84.00 111.50
Taxi (Mon-fri (06:00-20:00)) 64.73 64.69 52.45

Full table.

Like London, the UberX service comes out much cheaper than choosing a taxi in all cities. In San Francisco and New York the fares are staggeringly cheaper. In New York UberX services are about $20 USD cheaper, and in San Francisco almost $40 cheaper!

Improvements

Uber operates in 81 countries (Oct 2016). In the US and UK cities considered, UberX is cheaper than traditional taxis to and from airports. I would be interested to learn if the same was true in the 79 other countries.

tl;dr

UberX services from airports are cheaper than registered taxis from airports.

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.