Number of U.S. air carriers 1995-2018

Number of air carriers in the United States from 1995 to 2018

by E. Mazareanu, last edited Aug 9, 2019
Number of U.S. air carriers 1995-2018 The number of commercial air carriers in the United States has been steadily decreasing, with the number of major carriers falling from 22 in 2008 to 17 in 2018. For smaller air carriers the decline has been even stronger, with the 66 carriers counted in 2008 shrinking to 42 by 2018.
Major air carriers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation, major air carriers are commercial airlines generating over one billion U.S. dollars in operating revenue per year. The number of major air carriers can therefore change through smaller airlines growing, as well as through new carriers being created, or existing carriers exiting the market (including through mergers, notably the merger between US Airways and American Airlines in October 2015). This threshold is set such that the majority of the U.S. market is serviced by carriers designated as major, with the top 10 carriers alone accounting for over 90 percent of the domestic market.

Air travel in the United States

The decline in the number of U.S. airlines in no way is a sign of a decline in the U.S. air travel market – rather, the opposite is true. Total passenger miles flown by U.S. carriers have increased strongly over this period, with all of the leading carriers seeing year-on-year increases in their passenger numbers. However, these statistics hide a decline in regional air travel in the U.S. Since 2010, fewer passengers have been making less and less trips on regional carriers each year.
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Number of air carriers in the United States from 1995 to 2018

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