Passengers boarded by the largest U.S. air carriers 1990-2018

Number of passengers boarded by the largest U.S. air carriers from 1990 to 2018 (in 1,000s)

by E. Mazareanu, last edited Sep 17, 2019
Passengers boarded by the largest U.S. air carriers 1990-2018 The number of passengers boarded by U.S. air carriers grew sharply in 2018, increasing to 822.9 million – around 21 percent higher than the previous year. More moderate increases were seen in 2017 and 2016. 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.
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Number of passengers boarded by the largest U.S. air carriers from 1990 to 2018 (in 1,000s)

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