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Number of Airline Passengers Declines 11.8 Percent

by STAFF WRITER
Published May 15, 2009
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The number of scheduled domestic and international passengers on United States airlines in February 2009 declined by 11.8 percent from February 2008, dropping by 6.7 million to 49.8 million in the largest decrease from the same month of the previous year since December 2001, the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) today reported. February was the 12th consecutive month with a decrease in passengers from 2008, dropping the number of scheduled airline passengers to the lowest total since January 2004. BTS, a part of DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, in a release of preliminary data, reported that U.S. airlines carried 11.9 percent fewer domestic passengers than in February 2008 in the largest year-to-year percent decline since December 2001. International passengers on U.S. carriers decreased 10.9 percent, the largest year-to-year decline since January 2002. For the first two months of 2009, the number of scheduled domestic and international passengers on U.S. airlines declined by 11.0 percent from the same period in 2008, dropping to 101.6 million, 12.6 million fewer than a year earlier. U.S. airlines carried 11.4 percent fewer domestic passengers and 8.6 percent less international passengers in the first two months of 2009 than during the same period in 2008.

Top Airlines

Southwest Airlines carried more total system and more domestic passengers for the first two months than any other U.S. airline. American Airlines carried more international passengers than any other U.S. carrier.

Top Airports

More total system and domestic passengers boarded planes in the first two months at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International than at any other U.S. airport; and more international passengers boarded U.S. carriers at Miami International than at any other U.S. airport.

Flights Operated

U.S. carriers operated 1.5 million domestic and international flights in the first two months of 2009, 9.9 percent fewer than were operated during the same period in 2008. Domestic flights decreased 10.3 percent from the previous year while international flights were down 6.5 percent. In February, U.S. airlines operated 720,500 scheduled domestic and international flights, down 9.7 percent from the number of flights operated in February 2008. The number of domestic flights decreased 9.9 percent in February from a year earlier while international flights were down 7.6 percent.

System (Domestic + International) Comparisons

In other total system comparisons from the first two months of 2008 to the first two months of 2009 and from February 2008 to February 2009: Revenue passenger-miles (RPMs), a measure of the number of passengers and the distance flown, were down 11.1 percent in the first two months of 2009. In February, RPMs were down 12.6 percent. Available seat-miles (ASMs), a measure of airline capacity using the number of seats and the distance flown, were down 9.4 percent in the first two months of 2009. In February, ASMs were down 10.5 percent. Passenger load factor, passenger miles as a proportion of available seat-miles, was down 1.4 load factor points at 73.1 percent in the first two months of 2009. In February, load factor decreased 1.7 load factor points to 73.3 percent. Flight stage length, the average non-stop distance flown per departure, was down 0.5 percent in the first two months of 2009. In February, flight stage length was down 1.1 percent. Passenger trip length, the average distance flown per passenger, was down 0.1 percent in the first two months of 2009. In February, passenger trip length was down 1.0 percent. Among U.S. airlines, Southwest carried 14.1 million passengers on its system in the first two months of 2009, the most of any airline. In February, Southwest carried 7.1 million passengers on its system, the most of any airline. Among airports, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson was the busiest U.S. airport in the first two months of 2009, with 6.1 million domestic and international passenger boardings. In February, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson was the busiest U.S. airport with 2.9 million domestic and international passenger boardings on U. S. carriers.

Domestic Air Travel

U.S. airlines carried 88.5 million scheduled domestic passengers during the first two months of 2009, down 11.4 percent from the 99.8 million carried during the same period in 2008. The passengers were carried on 1.4 million flights, down 10.3 percent from the number of flights operated in 2008. In the most recent data month, February, the airlines carried 43.7 million scheduled domestic passengers, down 11.9 percent from the number of passengers carried during February 2008. The passengers were carried on 657,800 flights, down 9.9 percent from the 730,200 flights operated in February 2008. In other domestic comparisons from the first two months of 2008 to the first two months of 2009 and from February 2008 to February 2009: Domestic revenue passenger-miles (RPMs), a measure of the number of passengers and the distance flown, were down 12.0 percent in the first two months of 2009. In February, domestic RPMs were down 12.9 percent. Domestic available seat-miles (ASMs), a measure of airline capacity using the number of seats and the distance flown, were down 11.6 percent in the first two months of 2009. In February, domestic ASMs were down 12.1 percent. Domestic passenger load factor, passenger miles as a proportion of available seat-miles, was down 0.4 load factor points at 74.0 percent in the first two months of 2009. In February, domestic load factor was down 0.7 load factor points at 75.2 percent. Domestic flight stage length, the average non-stop distance flown per departure, was down 1.8 percent in the first two months of 2009. In February, domestic flight stage length was down 2.1 percent. Domestic passenger trip length, the average distance flown per passenger, was down 0.7 percent in the first two months of 2009. In February, domestic passenger trip length was down 1.1 percent. Southwest carried 14.1 million domestic passengers in the first two months of 2009, the most of any airline. In February, Southwest carried 7.1 million domestic passengers, the most of any airline. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson was the busiest domestic airport in the first two months of 2009, with 5.5 million domestic passenger boardings. In February, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson was the busiest domestic airport with 2.7 million domestic passenger boardings.

International Air Travel

U.S. airlines carried 13.2 million scheduled international passengers during the first two months of 2009, down 8.6 percent from the 14.4 million carried during the same period in 2008. The passengers were carried on 131,500 flights, down 6.5 percent from the 140,700 flights operated in 2008. In the most recent data month, February, the airlines carried 6.2 million scheduled international passengers, down 10.9 percent from the number of passengers carried during February 2008. The passengers were carried on 62,700 flights, down 7.6 percent from the 67,800 flights operated in February 2008. In other international comparisons from the first two months of 2008 to the first two months of 2009 and from February 2008 to February 2009: International revenue passenger-miles (RPMs), a measure of the number of passengers and the distance flown, were down 8.8 percent in the first two months of 2009. In February, international RPMs were down 12.1 percent. International available seat-miles (ASMs), a measure of airline capacity using the number of seats and the distance flown, were down 4.1 percent in the first two months of 2009. In February, international ASMs were down 6.7 percent. International passenger load factor, passenger miles as a proportion of available seat-miles, was down 3.6 load factor points to 71.1 percent in the first two months of 2009. In February, international load factor was down 3.9 load factor points to 68.9 percent. International flight stage length, the average non-stop distance flown per departure, was up 2.2 percent in the first two months of 2009. In February, international flight stage length was up 1.1 percent. International passenger trip length, the average distance flown per passenger, was down 0.3 percent in the first two months of 2009. In February, international passenger trip length was down 1.4 percent. American carried 3.0 million international passengers in the first two months of 2009, the most of any U.S. airline. In February, American carried 1.4 million international passengers, the most of any U.S. airline. Miami International was the busiest U.S. airport for international travel on U.S. carriers in the first two months of 2009, with 802,000 international passenger boardings. In February, Miami was the busiest U.S. airport for international travel on U.S. carriers with 371,900 international passenger boardings.

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