96% Reduction in U.S. Airline Passengers from 2019

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U.S. Airline Performance Trends

U.S. airlines carried 96% fewer scheduled service passengers in April 2020 than in April 2019, according to preliminary data filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by 24 airlines that carry 99% of the passengers, dropping air travel to the lowest level in more than two decades.

Graph - U.S. Airline Passengers

96% Reduction in U.S. Airline Passengers from 2019

Bureau of Transportation Statistics;

U.S. airlines carried 96% fewer scheduled service passengers in April 2020 than in April 2019, according to preliminary data filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by 24 airlines that carry 99% of the passengers, dropping air travel to the lowest level in more than two decades.

The 96% annual decline in the number of passengers from April 2019 is the largest year-to-year decrease on record, larger than the 51% decline from March 2019 to March 2020.

The large airlines carried 3.0 million passengers in April, the lowest monthly total in BTS records dating back to 1974. The previous low was 14.6 million passengers in February 1975.

Preliminary April 2020 passenger numbers (24 carriers reporting):

Total: 3.0 million passengers, down 96% from April 2019 (76.1M) Domestic: 2.8 million passengers, down 96% from April 2019 (66.7M) International: 132 thousand passengers, down 99% from April 2019 (9.4M)

U.S. airline traffic reports are filed monthly with BTS. Final April data will be released on July 16.  Complete international data by origin and destination, which is under a six-month confidentiality restriction, will be released on Oct. 16.

President Trump issued an order on Jan. 31 restricting travel to the U.S. from China.  He issued an additional order on March 11 restricting travel to the U.S. from certain European countries.

Systemwide Passengers

With the 96% decline in U.S. airlines passengers from April 2019 to April 2020 the number of passengers on U.S. airlines to the lowest monthly level on record based on records since 1974. The reductions in March and April followed 29 consecutive months of increases from the same month of the previous year, dating back to October 2017.

Table 1: Systemwide Percent Change in US Airlines Scheduled Service Passengers from the Same Month of the Previous Year, 2016-2020 Year-to-Year Percent Change

2016-20172017-20182018-20192019-2020
January 3.0 2.9 4.0 5.6
February -0.2 5.7 3.0 6.7
March 3.4 4.6 5.1 -51.3
April* 4.5 4.8 3.8 -96.1
May 3.0 4.9 5.2
June 3.4 5.0 3.7
July 3.8 5.2 3.6
August 5.0 5.0 3.4
September -2.3 5.8 5.7
October 4.6 3.9 4.1
November 4.6 4.5 0.5
December 3.5 3.6 8.8
Annual 3.1 4.7 4.2

Export Table DataNotes: 

* April 2020 data is preliminary

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Market

Domestic Passengers

Domestic passengers on U.S. airlines rose year-to-year for 29 consecutive months beginning in October 2017 before the 51% decline in March and a 96% decrease in April.

Table 2: Domestic Percent Change in US Airlines Scheduled Service Passengers from the Same Month of the Previous Year, 2016-2020Year-to-Year Percent Change

2016-20172017-20182018-20192019-2020
January 3.1 3.2 3.9 6.2
February -0.1 5.9 3.0 7.4
March 3.8 4.2 5.4 -51.0
April* 3.7 5.7 3.7 -95.7
May 2.7 5.3 5.2
June 3.1 5.3 3.6
July 3.7 5.8 3.8
August 5.0 5.5 3.4
September -2.5 5.8 5.8
October 4.7 3.8 4.2
November 4.5 4.4 0.2
December 3.7 3.7 9.5
Annual 3.0 4.9 4.3

Export Table DataNotes: 

* April 2020 data is preliminary

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Domestic Market

International Passengers

The number of U.S. airlines international passengers fell to 132,000, a 99% decrease from April 2019 to April 2020 following a 53% decline from March 2019 to March 2020. The declines followed 22 consecutive months of increases from the same month of the previous year, dating back to May 2018.

Table 3: International Percent Change in US Airlines Scheduled Service Passengers from the Same Month of the Previous Year, 2016-2020 Year-to-Year Percent Change

Year-to-Year Percent Change
Year-to-Year Percent Change
2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
January 2.1 1.0 4.5 1.9
February -1.2 4.6 3.4 0.7
March 0.4 7.2 3.4 -53.3
April* 9.8 -1.0 4.6 -98.6
May 5.4 2.3 5.6
June 5.3 3.4 4.2
July 4.6 1.6 2.2
August 4.9 2.0 3.9
September -1.1 5.9 4.6
October 3.2 4.3 3.2
November 5.4 4.7 2.2
December 1.7 3.2 3.6
Annual 3.5 3.1 3.8

* April 2020 data is preliminary

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