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Airlines Report Decline in September Passenger Demand

October 20, 2009 By: George Dooley

Despite the 10th consecutive month of ticket price reductions, the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) reports that passenger revenue fell 19 percent in September 2009 versus the same month in 2008. This marks the 11th consecutive month in which passenger revenue has declined from the prior year, fueled primarily by the 10th consecutive month of ticket price declines.

Just 2 percent fewer passengers traveled on U.S. airlines in September, in contrast to the 5 percent decline in August, the ATA said. The average price to fly one mile fell 18 percent, slightly more than the 17 percent year-over-year decline in August. Passenger revenue declines extended beyond the domestic United States to the transatlantic, transpacific and Latin markets.

“The demand for air travel remains weak, as evidenced by the untenable pricing environment. While other sectors may be seeing signs that the economy is getting back on track, the airline industry has faced challenges in its effort to generate revenue,” said ATA President and CEO James C. May.

Also reflecting a weak global economy is the continued decline in cargo traffic. U.S. airlines saw cargo revenue ton miles decline 12 percent year over year (11 percent domestically and 12 percent internationally) in August 2009, the 13th consecutive month of declining volumes. September 2009 cargo data is not yet available.

Annually, commercial aviation helps drive $1.1 trillion in U.S. economic activity and more than 10 million U.S. jobs. On a daily basis, U.S. airlines operate nearly 28,000 flights in 80 countries, using more than 6,000 aircraft to carry an average of two million passengers and 50,000 tons of cargo.

ATA airline members and their affiliates transport more than 90 percent of all U.S. airline passenger and cargo traffic. Visit

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