The number of scheduled domestic and international passengers on U.S. airlines and on flights to and from the U.S. on foreign airlines declined in 2009 by 5.3 percent from 2008, dropping to 769.6 million, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported.
In a release of preliminary data, the DOT said that U.S. airlines carried 5.2 percent fewer domestic passengers in 2009 and 6.3 percent fewer international passengers than in 2008. Passengers to and from the U.S. on foreign carriers decreased 4.8 percent from 2008.
Total passengers on U.S. airlines and on foreign airlines to and from the U.S. declined from the same month in 2008 in 10 of the 12 months. The largest decline of 12.4 percent took place in February. During the first six months of 2009, the number of passengers declined 9 percent from the same period in 2008. During the last six months, the decline was 1.4 percent.
According to the BTS, top airlines in 2009 included Southwest Airlines— which carried more total system passengers in 2009 than any other U.S. airline for the third consecutive year. American Airlines carried more international passengers to and from the U.S. in 2009 than any other U.S. or foreign carrier for the 20th consecutive year. More total system passengers boarded planes in 2009 at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International than at any other U.S. airport, and more international passengers boarded planes at New York John F. Kennedy than at any other U.S. airport.
Among airlines, Southwest carried 101.3 million passengers on its system in 2009, the most of any airline. Among airports, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson was the busiest U.S. airport in 2009, with 42.1 million domestic and international passenger boardings.
U.S. airlines and foreign airlines carried 151.5 million scheduled international passengers in 2009, down 5.6 percent from 2008. The passengers were carried on 1.27 million flights, down 6.5 percent from the 1.36 million flights operated in 2008. U.S. and foreign airlines operated 623,640 flights into the U.S. from foreign airports and 624,771 flights from U.S. airports to foreign destinations. U.S. airlines operated an additional 23,489 foreign-to-foreign flights.
U.S. airlines carried 56.6 percent of the international passengers in 2009, down from 57.1 percent in 2008.
International passengers on U.S. airlines and on foreign airlines to and from the United States declined in all months of 2009 from the same month in 2008 except in December. The largest decline of 13.4 percent took place in the month of May.
American carried 19.6 million international passengers in 2009, the most of any airline serving the United States. JFK was the busiest U.S. airport for international travel in 2009, with 10.7 million international passenger boardings.
U.S. carriers and foreign carriers serving the United States operated 10 million domestic and international flights in 2009, 6.6 percent fewer than operated in 2008.