A quick google search suggests that deicing is a very expensive activity, with many suggesting it might be 5-10k for both deicing and anti-icing fluid.

Given that flight costs typically are lower for customers in the coldest months of the year (in North America), how destructive is deicing on flight margins?

I can’t help but imagine that in the colder parts of the country flying regional jets or Dash-8s, the cost of deicing could consume a large portion of the total revenue realized of the flight. This isn’t explored in public financials issued by airlines, it’s often bundled in with other operational costs such as in Air Canada’s annual report.


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I think it only makes sense for airlines to annualize the cost of de-icing and factor it into the price of each ticket throughout the year and its overall profit margin per flight. Hence, you don't see it as its own line item on annual reports. It is part of the overall cost of operations and budgeted for ahead of time. Remember that the major airlines' de-icing cost is a year-round expense. When they're not paying for de-icing in the northern hemisphere, they are paying for it in the southern hemisphere, and vice versa.

Moreover, major airlines may operate their own de-icing crews at their main hubs. Meaning they can purchase de-icing fluids at wholesale or volume-discounted prices. They can then sell these services to private jets, charter operators, or other airlines. Likewise, they can trade the service with their alliance airlines. So, for example, American Airlines might provide de-icing services for British Airways at JFK in exchange for de-icing services at Heathrow. All of this can help offset some of the cost of de-icing.

What would be interesting to see are the annual reports of an airline that operated only in warm climates and then expanded its network into cold temperatures and see how much its operating costs have gone up; of course, the increase wouldn't be only de-icing.


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