December 2019 U.S. Airline Traffic Data

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December 2019 U.S. Airline Traffic Data

U.S. airlines carried 79.0 million systemwide (domestic and international) scheduled service passengers in December 2019, reaching a new seasonally-adjusted all-time high, up 0.9% from November.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) is withholding the scheduled release of estimated U.S. airlines’ traffic data for January and February because the estimates are statistical forecasts based on previous trends. The estimates do not account for the impact of the coronavirus.

U.S. airlines carried 69.3 million domestic passengers and 9.70 million international passengers on flights in December.

U.S. airline traffic reports are filed monthly with BTS. See the tables that accompany this release on the BTS website for summary data since 2016 (Tables 1-24) and complete data since 2000.

Figure 1. Monthly Passengers on U.S. Scheduled Airlines (Domestic + International), Seasonally Adjusted Dec 2016 – Dec 2019

Two measures of U.S. airlines passenger enplanements

Reported December seasonally-adjusted

  • System-wide enplanements (79.0M) were a seasonally-adjusted all-time high, up 0.9% from the previous high (78.3M) reached in November 2019.
  • Domestic enplanements (69.3M) were a seasonally-adjusted all-time high, up 1.0% from the previous high (68.6M) reached in November 2019.
  • International enplanements (9.70M) were down 0.2% from the seasonally-adjusted reported high (9.72M) reached in May 2019.

Reported December unadjusted

  • Systemwide enplanements (79.3M) were up 4.8% from the all-time December reported high (75.4M) reached in 2018.
  • Domestic enplanements (69.7M) were up 9.5% from the all-time December reported high (63.6M) reached in 2018.
  • International enplanements (9.58M) were up 3.7% from the all-time December reported high (9.24M) reached in 2018.

Table A. Seasonally Adjusted Reported Passenger Enplanements Compared to Previous Time Periods, December 2019

Seasonally Adjusted Passengers (in millions) Percent Change Compared to
Previous Month Previous Year Three Years Previous
December reported 79.0 0.9% 4.8% 13.4%

Export Table Data Table B. Unadjusted Reported Passenger Enplanements Compared to Previous Time Periods, December 2019

Unadjusted Passengers (in millions) Percent Change Compared to
Previous Year Two Years Previous Three Years Previous
December reported 79.3 9.5% 12.7% 16.6%

Export Table Data

Revised Annual

For the full year 2019, January through December, U.S. airlines carried 926.7 million passengers, revised from the second estimate of 926.1 million in last month’s release. The annual total was the highest based on comparable records kept since 2003. The annual number has reached a new high for five consecutive years. The reported 2019 passenger total is up 4.2% from 2018, up 9.1% from 2017 and up 12.5% from 2016. Numbers are unadjusted.

Figure 2. January-December Passengers on U.S. Airlines – 2003-2019Passengers in millions, unadjusted (000,000)

For data filed through December, see accompanying tables. For the complete database of reported data, see Traffic. For an explanation of BTS’ seasonal-adjustment methodology, see Seasonal Adjustment.

BTS Estimates

For seasonally-adjusted passenger numbers, BTS first estimates have averaged within 0.8% of reported data while second estimates have averaged within 0.6% of reported data.

For unadjusted passenger numbers, BTS first estimates have averaged within 1.0% of reported data while second estimates have averaged within 0.7% of reported data.