Because Ariane launches are frequently conducted with two comanifested payloads, the typical cost for each launch vehicle is not well defined. Prices also vary depending on desired services, contract terms and conditions, and market competition.
Prices for a number of Ariane launch contracts have been publicly disclosed, particularly those for European government payloads. ESA originally agreed to pay 134 million ECU (about $170 million in 1996) for the second Ariane 5 flight, but Arianespace reduced the price by 50 million ECU as part of its contribution to the recovery from the failure of the first flight. ESA paid $154 million for the launch of the XMM space telescope as the only passenger on an Ariane 5G in 1999. For the launch of Rosetta, as a single passenger on an Ariane 5G scheduled for 2003, ESA paid 120 million ($118 million). The launch of Envisat on a dedicated Ariane 5G in 2002 cost 140 million ($137 million). The 3100 kg (6800 lbm) Artemis satellite was launched as a copassenger on an Ariane 5G for 80 million ($79 million) in 2001. Finally, ESA signed a contract worth about 1 billion ($1 billion) in 2000 for the launch of nine Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV) on Ariane 5ESV rockets between 2003 and 2014. CNES paid 122 million ($120 million) for the launch of SPOT 5 on a dedicated Ariane 42P in 2002. The French space agency also paid 70 million ($69 million) for a shared ride on the first Ariane 5E to launch the 2200 kg (4850 lbm) Stentor spacecraft. Apparently, CNES did not receive the type of discount that is frequently offered to attract a customer to the first launch of a new vehicle type. Indian officials have also announced the cost for several of their contracts with Arianespace to launch INSAT series satellites. The cost of launching the 2550 kg (5600 lbm) INSAT 2E on a dedicated Ariane 42P in 1999 was around $69 million. INSAT 3A was launched in early 2003 for $74 million, while the 2750 kg (6060 lbm) INSAT 3C was launched on a dedicated Ariane 42L in 2002 for $70 million. In late 2002, PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia disclosed in quarterly financial documents that it had signed a $62.9 million contract for the launch of the Telkom 2 satellite in late 2004.
In 2002 the FAA estimated current Ariane 5 prices to be $125–155 million, based upon open source information. In 2019 Seradata  estimated that an Ariane 5 launch cost about $US 175M. To compete more effectively against reusable launch provider SpaceX, Arianespace has reportedly lowered the satellite launch cost on its Ariane 5 rocket to match what it expects to charge for the upcoming Ariane 6 rocket. The company has previously touted its aim for Ariane 6 launch contracts to be 40 per cent cheaper than the current Ariane 5. At this price point the remaining Ariane 5 launches would be priced at US $100-105 million.
Arianespace has survived three consecutive years of financial losses beginning in 2000. This had a variety of causes, including increased competition, and the cost of operating two launch vehicles – Ariane 4 and Ariane 5 – at the same time. In response, a great deal of emphasis has been placed on reducing the cost of the Ariane 5. The first production batch of vehicles, dubbed P1 and ordered in 1995, cost more than 12 billion French francs, equal to about $2.4 billion or roughly $170 million per vehicle using the exchange rate at the time. The second batch of vehicles ordered by Arianespace was reduced in cost by 35% compared to the first batch. For example, Cryospace, which produces the first stage tanks, has improved manufacturing efficiency to reduce its cost from an average of 6.4 million each in the first batch to 4.5 million in the second batch, and cut production time in half. Vulcain 2 engines for the second batch were required to cost less than the original Vulcain engine, despite having higher performance. The third batch order, currently being negotiated, is expected to cost about half the price per vehicle of the first batch. Even this may not be enough, however. Therefore, European governments are also considering ways to provide up to $150 million per year in increased financial support for Ariane. Proposals include paying part of the cost for operations at the launch site, which currently cost Arianespace around $10 million per launch, or requiring European governments to use Ariane for government funded payloads, as the United States does, or even guaranteeing a minimum number of Ariane launches per year.
The total development costs for the Ariane 5G were roughly $8–9 billion dollars. The Ariane 5 Evolution program was budgeted at 1.026 billion ECU in 1995 ($1.3 billion dollars at 1995 exchange rates). Development of the cryogenic upper stages was initiated separately under the Ariane 5 Plus program, budgeted at 1.3 billion ECU ($1.4 billion in 1998). In the past the development costs for Ariane have been paid for by ESA member governments. Recently, however, industry has begun to share a portion of the cost. Arianespace paid for many of the small improvements in the Perfo 2000 program which gradually upgraded the Ariane 5G, and also contributed to the cost of building the new S5 satellite processing facility at Kourou. Industrial contractors also paid a portion of the roughly $350 million dollar cost associated with recovering from the failure of the first Ariane 5.
The European Space Agency asked participating member states for an additional 230 million euros ($268 million) for the development of the Ariane 6 . The additional funding was required to combat delays in the vehicle’s development that have pushed its maiden flight to the second quarter of 2022. The 230 million euros in additional funding requested is a 6% increase in the development cost of Ariane 6. This puts the total cost of development at over 3.8 billion euros ($4.4 billion), significantly more than the approximately $400 million spent to develop the SpaceX Falcon 9 against which the Ariane 6 will compete.
Ariane is targeting a launch cost of 70 million euros ($82 million) for the smaller Ariane 62 version of the new launch system, which is expected to be capable of hoisting five metric tons of payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) once it begins launching in 2022. This will represent a significant cut to launch rates for a similar-sized Ariane 5, which former Ariane head Jean-Yves Le Gall says average $137 million before subsidies. Ariane 62's larger cousin, Ariane 64, will carry twice as much cargo at a targeted cost of 115 million euros, or $134 million .
Ariane 4 began operation since 1988, but it has been phased out in favor of the Ariane 5. The last Ariane 4 was launched in early 2003. The Ariane 5G was phased out in 2003 after 16 flights with one failure and two partial failures. The Ariane 5G+ flew three times in 2004 with no failures, and was retired at the end of 2004. The Ariane 5GS flew six times with no failures from 2005-2009 and was retired at the end of 2009. The Ariane 5ECA failed on its first flight in December 2002. However, it became the primary configuration in use as of 2005, and has flown 80 times from 2005-2021 with no failures.
With the addition of a second mobile launch table, Ariane 5 can now support a flight rate of about 8 launches per year. Manufacturing facilities are also designed for this rate. Arianespace has demonstrated contract-to-launch times of only a few months.