Airlines and aircraft manufacturers are constantly exploring ways to shed excess weight from their aircraft. Now, Ozempic and similar slimming medications may promise significant savings for the travel industry.
Losing weight isn’t just for couch potatoes like me; aircraft like to be as light as possible too. Why? The lighter the craft, the less fuel it burns. Not only is this good news for the environment but it helps keep airline’s coffers full. While taking off all your clothes like this Spanish model or this German traveller may be one way of dong this, new slimming medications may provide a lucrative if problematic way forward…
According to a report by Sheila Kahyaoglu — a Jefferies Financial analyst — United Airlines could save a whopping $80 million USD (~ $125 million AUD) annually if the average passenger weight drops by just 10 pounds (4.5kgs). As reported by Bloomberg, this revelation forms a part of Jefferies’ broader analysis of these medications and their potential potential public impact.
WATCH: The amazing story of a flight attendant who fell out of her plane.
A Weighty Issue
The report suggests a potential global market for weight loss medications exceeding $100 million USD. Sales are projected to soar rapidly over the next decade, with Ozempic leading the charge.
Fuel and labour consistently rank as the two largest expenses for carriers, with fuel accounting for roughly 25% of total spending. Over the years, airlines have tried a number of strategies to lighten their flights, including removing in-flight magazines and adopting lighter tableware.
Here’s a quick breakdown of Kahyaoglu maths, which takes Untied as a case study that could be applied across other carriers: A 10-pound weight loss for every United passenger could translate to 1,790 pounds of weight reduction on every United Airlines flight.
This reduction can be scaled to an annual fuel saving of 27.6 million gallons. Based on an average 2023 fuel price of $2.89 USD per gallon, this equates to an annual saving of $80 million USD:
“It’s important to acknowledge that this benefit could extend similarly across various airlines.”Sheila Kahyaoglu
The Influence Of The Obesity Crisis
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three American adults and one in five children are considered obese. Furthermore, the Jefferies report indicates that the global population’s overweight percentage is projected to increase to 41.5% in 2023, up from 36.4% in 2013.
While pharmaceutical companies, apparel manufacturers, and cosmetics are all poised to benefit from the rapid spread of Ozempic, it’s worth noting that this trend could adversely affect restaurants, food producers, and even travel providers as the high cost of these drugs might lead to reduced spending elsewhere in the economy.
What the report apparently fails to consider are the potentially vast adverse mental health impacts of a powerful weight loss drug like Ozempic becoming rapidly normalised, as well as the monetary implications therein.
While people being slimmer might save money for some, it could come with massive and somewhat hidden effects for others…