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More Growth in the Skies

More Growth in the Skies

Travel on U.S. airlines continues to grow. In April, for the first time, U.S. airlines carried more than 70 million passengers, 0.9 percent more than the 69.7 million than in March, which was the previous all-time high. Continued strong growth in the domestic market coupled with a spurt in international travel produced the record number of passengers in April.

The passenger numbers, seasonally adjusted by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), continue to climb. April’s numbers were up 1.2 percent from the beginning of the year, 4.0 percent from the start of 2016, up 8.5 percent from the beginning of 2015 and up 11.9 percent from January 2014. U.S. airlines carried 7.5 million more passengers in April 2017 than they did in January 2014.

April was the 53rd consecutive month that the number of passengers on U.S. airlines has grown from the previous year. The last month for a year-to-year decrease was November 2012 when the number of passengers fell 0.4 percent from November 2011.

Beginning in December 2012, the first of the 53 months in which total enplanements grew year-to-year, growth in enplanements on international flights outpaced domestic growth for 19 consecutive months. Beginning in July 2014, the pattern reversed and domestic enplanement growth exceeded international growth for 20 consecutive months. Since March 2016, domestic enplanements have grown faster than international enplanements in all but three months. In a reversal of the trend, year-to-year growth in international enplanements exceeded domestic growth by 3.9 percentage points in April 2017, the most recent month. 

Since July 2014, enplanements on domestic flights, which make up 87 percent of total U.S. airline enplanements, have been a major driver of the growth in total enplanements. Enplanements on domestic flights topped 61 million for the first time in April 2017, up 0.4 percent from the previous high of 60.9 million in November 2016.

April’s domestic numbers were up 0.8 percent from the beginning of the year, 3.7 percent from the start of 2016, up 8.4 percent from the beginning of 2015 and up 12.2 percent from January 2014. U.S. airlines carried 6.6 million more domestic passengers in April 2017 than they did in January 2014.

April was the 38th consecutive month that the number of passengers on U.S. airlines’ domestic flights has grown from the previous year. The last month for a year-to-year decrease was February 2014 when the number of passengers fell 0.2 percent from February 2013.

Enplanements on U.S. airlines international flights have also been growing. With the unusually strong growth in April, enplanements on international flights topped 9 million for the first time, up 3.3 percent from March, which was the previous high.

April saw renewed growth in international enplanements with the largest year-to-year growth (7.0 percent) since November 2010 and the largest month-to-month growth (3.3 percent) since May 2010.

April’s international numbers were up 3.4 percent from the beginning of the year, 6.0 percent from the start of 2016, up 8.8 percent from the beginning of 2015 and up 10.0 percent from January 2014. 

April was the eighth consecutive month that the number of passengers on U.S. airlines’ international flights has grown from the previous year. The last month for a year-to-year decrease was August 2016 when the number of passengers fell 0.4 percent from August 2015.

 

Changes in Passenger Enplanements, 12-month period May 2015-April 2016 compared to May 2016-April 2017

Fastest Growing/Slowest Growing U.S. Airlines (top 10 airlines)

Biggest Gain

Percent Change (%)

Biggest Loss

Percent Change (%)

Total

Spirit

15.2

ExpressJet

-16.3

Domestic

Spirit

16.0

ExpressJet

-16.0

International

Southwest

29.0

SkyWest

-20.7

Fastest Growing/Slowest Growing Airports (30 busiest airports)

Biggest Gain

Percent Change (%)

Biggest Loss

Percent Change (%)

Total

Fort Lauderdale

10.3

Philadelphia

-5.1

Domestic

Newark

8.9

Houston Bush

-4.7

International

Boston

19.7

Phoenix

-10.3

BTS releases U.S. airline traffic data monthly. BTS has scheduled Aug. 10 for the release of May traffic data. See the BTS release schedule.

Visit the BTS website for air traffic releases, to customize  air traffic data, more passenger numbers,  or for aviation databases.

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