Airlines Report Decline in October Passenger Demand

Airline passenger revenue, based on a sample group of carriers, fell 15 percent in October 2009 versus the same month in 2008, the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) reports. This marks the 12th consecutive month in which passenger revenue has declined from the prior year, fueled primarily by the 11th consecutive month of ticket price reductions.

Three percent fewer passengers traveled on U.S. airlines in October, while the average price to fly one mile fell 13.5 percent. Passenger revenue declines extended beyond the domestic United States, particularly in transatlantic and transpacific markets, the ATA reports.

“With U.S. unemployment surpassing 10 percent in October, these results for air travel demand come as little surprise. Economic conditions suggest that pressure to generate revenue will remain intense for the foreseeable future,” said ATA President and CEO James C. May.

Compounding the airlines problems, and reflecting a weak global economy is the continued decline in cargo traffic. U.S. airlines saw cargo revenue ton miles decline 3 percent year over year (2 percent domestically and 4 percent internationally) in September 2009, the 14th consecutive month of declining volumes. October 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, the ATA says. 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.