Air Passenger Volumes (RP, RPK)

The volume of air passengers transported by airlines is often referred to as air passenger traffic and it consists of two main metrics: Revenue Passenger (RP) and Revenue Passenger Kilometer (RPK). The latter metric in the imperial system is referred to as Revenue Passenger Mile (RPM).

Revenue Passenger (RP)

Revenue Passenger (RP) indicates how many of an airline’s available seats were sold for one flight or flight system. This metric includes only the number of passengers who paid for their tickets and excludes passengers onboard who did not, as for example airline staff travelling on duty.

Fig. 1 – Aircraft Interior showing passengers (RP) travelling

The term Revenue Passenger (RP) should not be confused with the term “Passenger Revenue”, which refers to the revenue generated by airlines transporting passengers in scheduled operations.

Revenue Passenger Kilometer (RPK)

This metric is calculated by multiplying Revenue Passengers (RP), defined above, multiplied by the distance flown. For example, if there are 100 Revenue Passengers in one flight between Madrid and Beijing of 9224 km, they generate a total of 922,400 RPK.

When flying longer routes, airlines use more resources than for shorter routes. Thus, this metric contributes to giving more weight to passengers flying on longer routes, compared to those flying shorter ones.

Related Topics


  • Reference 1
  • Reference 2