What do you pay to walk through a building and head down a runway?

With Calgary's "Airport Improvement" Fee getting hiked to $25/flight, I figured I'd quickly run some numbers on what you already pay directly through your airline to the airport.

Some simple assumptions: costs for things like airport U.S. pre-clearance ($4/person) would already be broken out on your ticket so I'm not including that. As an example I'll be using a Westjet 737-700 at average utilization (roughly 80% ... this means 136*0.8=108.8 passengers on average). Westjet's fleet utilization average 11.6 hours per day of flight time per aircraft (at least in Q2 2010) and average stage length was about 900-950 miles, so I'll guess a little and put average flight length at 2 hours... say 6 flights per day per aircraft.

What fees have you probably not seen broken down before (using the pre-increase-to-$25-AIF list of fees for YYC):

  • CUTE FEE: $0.40 per departing enplaned revenue passenger at Calgary International for the use by the air carrier of the Authority’s Common Use Terminal Equipment System (“CUTE”).
  • Landing fee: Paid based on the maximum takeoff weight of an aircraft. A 737-700's MTOW is 60,330kg = $359.57 (given the passenger assumptions this works out to $3.30/person)
  • General terminal fees: $3.84/person given the size of the aircraft and assuming a domestic flight. (This ranges from $2.81-$9.43/passenger depending on size of aircraft and international vs. domestic).
  • Passenger loading bridge fees: $78.47 per connection to Authority owned passenger loading bridges with GPU (which is I believe the type Westjet hooks to). Per passenger: $0.72
  • Apron usage fee: (basically parking for longer than a given interval per flight. Here I'll assume that each aircraft incurrs this once per day. For a Boeing 737-700 this is $66.37/occurance. Per passenger: $66.37/(6 flights on average per day * 108.8 passengers) = $0.58
  • Airport improvement fee

So, prior to paying any sort of "Airport Improvement" fee, you're already forking out close to $9 in airport fees (about $12.5 if the flight had been international and $16.5 if you were pre-clearing to the US).

(For comparison, the cost to add another runway and built a new international terminal is somewhere in the $2.4 billion range. YYC argues that about $7/passenger is what they have to pay in federal taxes).