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U.S. jet fuel consumption in 2023 remained below the pre-pandemic high: EIA

WASHINGTON: Annual jet fuel consumption in the United States grew in 2023 for the third year in a row but remained below the pre-pandemic peak in 2019, suggesting U.S. aviation had not fully returned to normal operations in the third year after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, data by U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed. U.S. jet fuel consumption averaged 1.65 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2023, 5% below the pre-pandemic high in 2019. So far this year, airline passenger volumes have surpassed 2019 levels and are consistently higher than in 2023.

In 2020, less jet fuel was consumed in the United States than in any year since 1985 due to reductions in air travel caused by the outbreak of COVID-19. As travelers began flying again, labor supply constraints in the aviation sector and high fuel prices contributed to a slower recovery for jet fuel consumption than other liquid fuels. With labor and fuel price constraints largely resolved in 2023, jet fuel consumption increased more slowly than
during the two previous years and remained below pre-pandemic levels because of less activity by foreign-based commercial carriers, declining freight activity, and improving fuel efficiency in the commercial fleet.

Jet fuel is used by three categories of users:

Commercial aviation, which includes passenger airlines and air freight companies

General aviation, which includes recreational flying and business aviation

Military and government aviation, which covers public sector users

We estimate commercial aviation typically accounts for around 85% of jet fuel consumed in the United States. General aviation accounts for around 8% of jet fuel consumption, and U.S. military and U.S. government consumers account for around 7% of jet fuel consumption.

Among the three, commercial jet fuel consumption was the most affected by pandemic-era travel reductions, falling 42% from 2019 to 2020. In 2023, commercial carriers consumed 8% less fuel than in 2019. General aviation users only consumed 11% less fuel in 2020 tha
n in 2019. Military and government users were much less affected by travel restrictions; their jet fuel use only declined 7% from 2019 to 2020. Jet fuel consumption by both military and government and general aviation users recovered to pre-pandemic levels by 2021.

Source: Emirates News Agency