Heavier people should pay more to fly, says Qantas economist

Ruth Doherty
Heavier people should pay more to fly, says Qantas economist
Heavier people should pay more to fly, says Qantas economist


Still feeling the effects of the great Christmas fill-up? Look away now! Heavier people should pay more to fly, says a former economist with Qantas airlines.

Tony Webber gives a thorough and reasoned explanation for his theory on the Sydney Morning Herald, and the rationale behind it, he says, is simple: the more a plane weighs, the more fuel it must burn, which costs the airline more and, in turn, will increase air fares.


If passengers on the aircraft weigh more, the plane will consume more fuel, and these costs to the airline will be offloaded on to air travellers.

Just as people are charged for excess baggage, so people should be charged for excess weight, says Tony.

He says that, since 2000, airline fuel costs have increased mainly because of high oil and jet fuel prices, but also because the average adult passenger is carrying more pounds.

He says that since 2000, the extra loading that an (Australian) passenger carries is two kilos.

On an example route like Sydney to London via Singapore, this means around 3.72 extra barrels of jetfuel per flight, which costs around £315.

When added up over a whole year, if the airline does the route three times a day, this would cost the airline around £670,000 a year.

This could seriously eat into an airline's profits, with this representing a 13% profit reduction if the airline is only clearing $10 (£6.70) per passenger per route.

Tony suggests that a weight surcharge, on a per-excess-kilo for men and women basis, of 58 cents (38p) per kilogram would recover costs.

So, if a critical weight limit was 75 kilos, and a man weighed 100 kilos, he would be charged $14.50 (£10) one way. And, if a woman was 50 kilos, she would get a $14.50 discount, for example.

But, as Tony concedes, a weight surcharge may be a good idea in theory but, in practice, it could be hard to implement.

Passengers would be required to be weighed at check-in, which would slow the process, for one thing.

But, as the price of fuel continues to soar, it may be an idea that can't be brushed under the carpet for long.

Do you think heavier people should pay more to fly? Or would a 'fat tax' be unfair? Vote in our poll above, and leave your thoughts below...

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