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Passengers boarded by the largest U.S. air carriers 1990-2019

The number of passengers boarded by U.S. air carriers grew in 2019, increasing to 860 million, - 4.5 percent higher than the previous year. More moderate increases were seen in 2017 and 2018. However, the period from 2010 to 2015 saw almost no overall growth in passenger numbers.

Airline passenger growth

The stagnation of passenger traffic on U.S. airlines between 2010 and 2015 poses something of a puzzle. Over this time, the number of passengers boarded by airlines globally increased by almost one billion, while the largest U.S. carriers increased their domestic enplanements. The number of international passengers travelling to and from the U.S. also grew over this period. The question is, why did passenger numbers remain constant given the growth seen in related metrics?

Regional carriers

One contributing factor to this period of stagnation in passenger traffic is the decline in regional air travel. The number of flights performed by regional carriers in the U.S. has fallen every year since 2010, and by 2017 was almost 19 percent lower. This decline translates into almost 11 million fewer regional passengers flying in 2017 than 2010.

Number of passengers boarded by the largest U.S. air carriers from 1990 to 2019

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Release date

February 2020


United States

Survey time period

1990 to 2019

Supplementary notes

According to the source, data include nonstop scheduled service between points within the United States (including territories) by U.S. air carriers with at least one percent of the total domestic scheduled service passenger revenues and operate aircraft with a passenger capacity of 30 or more seats.
Data through 2018 was taken from previous editions.
The values were rounded.

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Statistics on "American Airlines"

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