U.S. airlines - total operating revenue streams 2004-2018

The combined operating revenue of U.S. airlines has increased each year since 2015, reaching an all-time high of just under 239.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2018.

Revenue streams

Operating revenue is the revenue generated by a company from its primary business activities. In the case of most airlines, we can divide operating revenue into four main types: airfares, ancillary, cargo and other. Airfares is simply the revenue generated from the sale of flights, while cargo is any additional revenue generated from transporting freight or mail in addition to passengers. Ancillary airlines are the additional fees that are sometimes charged to passengers for extra services such as seat allocation, additional baggage, meals and access to an in-flight entertainment system or in-flight Wi-Fi. Ancillary revenue can comprise a significant portion of an airline’s total revenue, especially for low-cost carriers. Finally, other includes revenue from regular non-flight services such as frequent flyer programs or consumer credit cards offered by the airline.

U.S. airlines

In 2018, the largest four passenger airlines in the U.S. accounted for just under two thirds of the total operating revenue generated by U.S. airlines. The three large full-service network carriers – American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United – all reported a similar operating revenues in 2018 of between 40 and 45 billion U.S. dollars. Southwest Airlines – the fourth-largest U.S. airline and largest U.S. low-cost carrier – generated operating revenues around half that of the large network carriers.

Total operating revenue streams of U.S. airlines from 2004 to 2018

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Release date

May 2019


United States

Survey time period

2004 to 2018

Supplementary notes

To retrieve data, please select "All U.S. Carriers" from the drop-down list and click "Operating Revenue".
Total operating revenue streams include additional revenue sources such as charter, cargo, and miscellaneous operating revenue.

The figures have been rounded.

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Statistics on "Air transportation in the U.S."

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