U.S. Airlines September 2020 Passengers Decreased 65% from September 2019

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U.S. Airline Performance Trends

U.S. airlines carried 65% fewer scheduled service passengers in September 2020 than in September 2019 (preliminary), according to data filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by 23 airlines that carry more than 90% of the passengers. The 65% decline from September 2019 was the smallest annual decrease since March.

Graph - U.S. Airlines September 2020 data

U.S. Airlines September 2020 Passengers Decreased 65% from September 2019

U.S. airlines carried 65% fewer scheduled service passengers in September 2020 than in September 2019 (preliminary), according to data filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by 23 airlines that carry more than 90% of the passengers. The 65% decline from September 2019 was the smallest annual decrease since March.

The large airlines carried 25.1 million passengers in September 2020 (preliminary), compared to 71.5 million passengers on all U.S. airlines in September 2019 and up from 3.0 million in April 2020, which was the lowest monthly total in BTS records dating back to 1974. The previous low was 14.6 million passengers in February 1975.

Preliminary September 2020 passenger numbers (23 carriers reporting):

Total: 25.1 million passengers, down 65% from September 2019 (71.5M) Domestic: 23.7M passengers, down 62% from September 2019 (63.0M) International: 1.4M passengers, down 83.6% from September 2019 (8.5M)

U.S. airline traffic reports are filed monthly with BTS. Final September data will be released on Dec. 10.  Complete international data by origin and destination, which is under a six-month confidentiality restriction, will be released on March 11.

Systemwide Passengers

September 2020 passengers: 25.1M

Change from September 2019: -65%

Percent of 2019 passengers: 35%

Change from April 2020 low: +22M passengers

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 -89.6
June 3.4 5.0 3.7 -80.3
July 3.8 5.2 3.6 -72.4
August 5.0 5.0 3.4 -69.8
September -2.3 5.8 5.7 -64.8*
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  

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Market

* September 2020 data is preliminary

Domestic Passengers

September 2020 passengers: 23.7M

Change from September 2019: -62%

Percent of 2019 passengers: 38%

Change from April 2020 low: +21M passengers

Domestic percent of total September 2020 passengers: 94%

Domestic percent of total September 2019 passengers: 88%

Table 2: Domestic 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 3.1 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 -88.5
June 3.1 5.3 3.6 -77.9
July 3.7 5.8 3.8 -69.6
August 5.0 5.5 3.4 -67.1
September -2.5 5.8 5.8 -62.3*
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  

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

* September 2020 data is preliminary

International Passengers

September 2020 passengers: 1.4M

Change from September 2019: -84%

Percent of 2019 passengers: 16%

Change from April 2020 low: +1.3M passengers

International percent of total September 2020 passengers: 6%

International percent of total September 2019 passengers: 12%

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

 2016-20172017-20182018-20192019-2020
January 2.1 1.0 4.5 1.9
February -1.2 4.6 3.4 0.7
March 0.4 7.2 3.1 -53.3
April 9.8 -1.0 4.3 -98.6
May 5.4 2.3 5.3 -98.1
June 5.3 3.4 4.2 -96.4
July 4.6 1.6 2.2 -90.4
August 4.9 2.0 3.9 -87.5
September -1.1 5.9 4.6 -83.6*
October 3.2 4.3 3.2  
November 5.4 3.7 2.2  
December 1.7 3.2 3.6  
Annual 3.5 3.1 3.8  

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

* September 2020 data is preliminary

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