"Give people a good deal," People Express founder Donald Burr says, "and they'll use the hell out of it." Expressed as "revenues per passenger mile," the company's ticket prices are far below those of its four major competitors. As a result, People Express fills more seats on any given plane as illustrated by the "load factor" percentage. The secret lies in controlling costs. People Express's "operating expenses per available seat mile," the basic measure of costs, are the lowest in the airline industry, so it can maintain its deep discount pricing.

Operating expenses per available seat mile

1982 1st 6 mo. of 1983

Delta 7.97 cents 8.11 cents

Eastern 8.21 8.42

Piedmont 9.26 8.91

US Air 11.07 10.64

People Express 5.00 5.60

Revenue per passenger mile, or "yield"

Delta 13.67 cents 12.03 cents

Eastern 13.01 12.39

Piedmont 15.87 15.29

US Air 19.51 17.69

People Express 8.90 8.00

Load factor

Delta 52.7% 58.3%

Eastern 56.7 60.9

Piedmont 55.6 53.5

US Air 57.2 60.5

People Express 60.94B77.5