Try our corporate solution for free!

Air transportation in the U.S. - statistics & facts

Air transportation generally includes the commercial transportation of either passengers or cargo by airplane, both domestically and internationally. In 2020, there were a total of 59 air carriers performing these services in the United States.

Impact of the coronavirus pandemic on U.S. air transportation

In recent years, the industry has seen strong growth with record values in operating revenue and passenger numbers in 2019. In 2020, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. airlines saw their operating revenue fell by 47 percent and passenger traffic shrank by 60 percent. In order to survive this difficult period, airlines looked for new revenue streams in air cargo. In 2020, U.S. airlines transported over 16 million tons of air cargo on 43.86 billion revenue ton miles.

Types of air carriers

The largest airlines in the United States are the three main full-service legacy carriers – American, Delta, and United. These airlines are termed legacy carriers as they had established interstate routes prior to deregulation of the U.S. airline industry in 1978. In the decades since deregulation, these three airlines have merged with or acquired the majority of carriers existing prior to deregulation, leading to a more concentrated full-service market. Deregulation also led to the emergence of new low-cost carriers though, such as Southwest, who now has a larger share of domestic market than any single legacy carrier. However, in terms of revenue, the freight company FedEx is a larger airline than Southwest, owing to their air cargo operations.

Safety is an important matter in air transportation

Air travel is a very safe mode of transportation, with there being no fatal accidents involving commercial U.S. air carriers between 2014 and 2017. Similarly, there are very few reports of serious injuries resulting from air accidents. Air travel is less safe when taking into account general aviation, which includes private air travel (e.g. for business), flying for sport or as a hobby, and other assorted activities such as firefighting, photography, and search and rescue operations. In 2019 alone, there were 1,220 accidents in U.S. general aviation, resulting in 414 fatalities.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 30 most important statistics relating to "Air transportation in the U.S.".


Get in touch with us. We are happy to help.
Statista Locations
Contact Vayola Jocelyn
Vayola Jocelyn
Client Support Specialist– Contact (United States)

Mon - Fri, 9am - 6pm (EST)

Contact Ziyan Zhang
Ziyan Zhang
Customer Relations– Contact (Asia)

Mon - Fri, 11:30am - 10pm (IST)

Contact Kisara Mizuno
Kisara Mizuno
Customer Success Manager– Contact (Asia)

Mon - Fri, 9:30am - 5:30pm (JST)

Contact Lodovica Biagi
Lodovica Biagi
Director of Operations– Contact (Europe)

Mon - Fri, 9:30am - 5pm (GMT)

Contact Carolina Dulin
Carolina Dulin
Associate Director - LAC– Contact (Latin America)

Mon - Fri, 9am - 6pm (EST)