March 2012 Airline Traffic Up

U.S. airlines carried 64.5 million scheduled domestic and international passengers in March 2012, 1.0 percent more domestic passengers and 4.2 percent more international passengers than in March 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reports.

These changes resulted in a systemwide increase of 1.4 percent in passengers from March 2011. The March 2012 passenger total was 3.6 percent above that of two years ago in March 2010.

BTS also reported that the system load factor of 83.0 percent and the domestic load factor of 84.5 percent were record highs for the month of March.

U.S. airlines carried 172.0 million total system passengers during the first three months of 2012, up 2.8 percent from the same period in 2011. Domestically, they carried 149.7 million passengers, up 2.8 percent from 2011. Internationally, they carried 22.3 million passengers, up 2.7 percent from 2011.

The first three months of 2012 continued the trend of 2011 when the system and domestic load factors were at an all-time high while the international load factor declined from the all-time high in 2010, BTS said.  Domestic capacity, measured by available seat-miles, decreased 0.6 percent in March 2012 compared to March 2011, while revenue passenger miles (RPMs) increased by 1.4 percent, resulting in the record domestic load factor.

The international load factor in March increased as airlines grew capacity by 0.3 percent while RPMs gained by a larger 4.9 percent. Systemwide capacity was down 0.3 percent compared to a 2.5 percent increase in RPMs.

In March, Delta Airlines carried more total system passengers than any other U.S. airline while Southwest Airlines carried more domestic passengers. United Airlines, following its merger with Continental Airlines, carried the most international passengers. The top 10 US airlines carried 79.8 percent of systemwide passengers, an increase from the 71.2 percent in March 2011.