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Despite Fare Cuts Airline Passengers Decline

September 22, 2009 By: George Dooley

Passenger revenue, based on a sample group of carriers, fell 21 percent in August 2009 versus the same month in 2008 – the 10th consecutive month in which passenger revenue has declined from the prior year, the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) reports.

Six percent fewer passengers traveled on U.S. airlines in August while the average price to fly one mile fell 17 percent, a slight improvement over the 18 percent year-over-year yield decline observed in July. Revenue declines extended beyond the domestic United States to the transatlantic, transpacific and Latin markets.

“The industry continues to see a reduction in the number of air travelers, despite double-digit declines in fares,"  said ATA President and CEO James C. May. "While there are signs that improvement may be on the horizon, regrettably the demand for air travel remains weak."

Also reflecting a weak global economy is the continued decline in cargo traffic. U.S. airlines saw cargo revenue ton-miles decline 13 percent year over year (11 percent domestically and 15 percent internationally) in July 2009, the 12th consecutive month of declining volumes. August 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.


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