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Using a long series of estimations whose details can be found in Rick's article he concludes that the annual operating cost for an airliner is about million (not counting fuel, landing fees, and taxes).An airliner's purchase price is 0 million so one year's uses costs about one-third of the purchase price.That is, assuming a full cargo turnover at each port of call, how many one-way runs can the ship make? From departure planet orbit to FTL flight to arrival planet orbit. Assumption: each trip requires one month for servicing, maintenance, selling the cargo, buying new cargo for the next run.This makes each trip four months from departure to departure, or three cargos per year.You can alter some of the assumptions yourself to tweak the economy to suit your science fictional background.
For comparison purposes we need an airliner's average cost of running, but the corporations are remarkably closed-lipped about that.
A cargo jet can carry 50 tons so its purchase price is about million per ton of cargo capacity.
Assumption: starships are strictly orbit-to-orbit, they use space ferrys to transfer passengers and cargo between the starship and the planet.
With creative maintenance, the service life might be longer than 30 years, see below.
Question: how many cargos can a merchant starship carry in 1 year?