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BTS Releases September Airline Traffic Data; September 2003 Domestic Traffic Up 1.1 Percent From September 2002

BTS Releases September Airline Traffic Data; September 2003 Domestic Traffic Up 1.1 Percent From September 2002

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BTS 01-04
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Friday, January 23, 2004 - The U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) today reported, in a release of preliminary data, that U.S. airlines carried 1.1 percent more domestic passengers in September 2003 than in September 2002, based on a year-to-year comparison of the airlines that reported traffic data in both months (Table 1).

U.S. airlines carried 0.4 percent less domestic passengers during the first nine months of 2003 than in the comparable period in 2002 based on a year-to-year comparison of the airlines that reported traffic data in both years (Table 1).

Traffic was down 2.9 percent during the first nine months of 2003 from the same period in 2001 for the Continuously Reporting Carriers. This included the pre-Sept. 11 period as well as the immediate impact of the terrorist attack (Table 1). Commuter and small certificated carriers began reporting traffic data in October 2002.

All reporting U.S. airlines carried 44.3 million domestic passengers in September 2003 (Table 2). This number includes 40.6 million domestic passengers on Continuously Reporting Carriers and 3.6 million domestic passengers from the collection of commuter and small certificated carriers that began reporting in October 2002 (Table 2A).

Total domestic enplanements fell 18.3 percent in September 2003 from August 2003 for all domestic flights operated by U.S. airlines. (Tables 2 and 2A). Month-to-month changes can be affected by seasonal factors.

BTS is releasing separate numbers for the Continuously Reporting Carriers and the new group of reporting carriers to allow year-to-year comparisons with comparable data. Changes in traffic carried by continuously reporting carriers do not necessarily mean the same trends have taken place on the commuter and small certificated airlines that began reporting in October 2002.

Among airlines, Southwest Airlines regained the number one position in reporting the largest number of domestic enplanements in September 2003 - 5.7 million. (Table 3). The margin between Southwest and second place Delta Air Lines was a very slim 1,354 domestic enplanements. After an absence of four months, American Eagle appeared in the top 10 rankings at the number 10 position. (Table 3).

Among airports, Hartsfield International in Atlanta continued in September to be the busiest domestic airport, with 2.7 million passenger boardings (Table 4).

Table 4 includes the domestic enplanements for all reporting carriers, and not just the 'Continuously Reporting Carriers'.

Table 1: Domestic Enplanements for Continuously Reporting Carriers

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Month 2001 2002 2003
January 42,025,318 38,289,289 40,472,305
February 41,182,023 38,349,267 38,598,425
March 50,475,846 48,118,859 46,830,643
April 48,353,380 45,075,414 43,893,674
May 48,646,620 46,722,524 45,646,795
June 50,862,941 48,768,487 48,409,911
July 53,148,561 50,981,017 51,641,714
August 53,935,958 51,225,891 49,876,781
September 29,338,311 40,219,163 40,645,104
Year to Date 417,968,958 407,749,911 406,015,352

Source: T-100 Domestic Market

Table 2. Total Industry Domestic Enplanements

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Month 2001 2002 2003
January 44,107,354 38,557,639 43,435,873
February 43,177,091 38,644,477 41,529,313
March 53,054,589 48,500,814 50,474,701
April 50,791,568 45,436,188 47,558,860
May 51,119,648 47,115,873 49,581,902
June 53,471,052 49,190,604 52,694,519
July 55,802,826 51,167,969 56,073,437
August 56,404,948 51,227,445 54,220,632
September 30,546,412 40,219,163 44,273,136
October 40,290,718 48,321,906  
November 40,691,635 44,270,425  
December 40,901,001 49,927,488  
Year to Date 438,475,488 410,060,172 439,842,373
Annual 560,358,842 552,579,991  

Source: T-100 Domestic Market

Table 2A: Domestic Enplanements for New and Continuously Reporting Carriers

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  Continuously Reporting Carriers Carriers Reporting Beginning in Oct. 2002 Total
October 2002 44,969,174 3,352,732 48,321,906
November 41,024,300 3,246,125 44,270,425
December 46,454,164 3,473,324 49,927,488
January 2003 40,472,305 2,963,568 43,435,873
February 38,598,425 2,930,888 41,529,313
March 46,830,643 3,644,058 50,474,701
April 43,893,674 3,665,186 47,558,860
May 45,646,795 3,935,107 49,581,902
June 48,409,911 4,284,608 52,694,519
July 51,641,714 4,431,723 56,073,437
August 49,876,781 4,343,851 54,220,632
September 40,645,104 3,628,032 44,273,136

Source: T-100 Domestic Market

Additional airline traffic data can be found on the BTS website at TranStats, the Intermodal Transportation Database at http://transtats.bts.gov. Click on "aviation", then on "Air Carrier Statistics (Form 41 Traffic)", then click on "T-100 Domestic Market."

Table 3. Top 10 Airlines, ranked by September 2003 Domestic Enplanements

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Rank Airline Name September 2002 August 2003 September 2003 Sept. 2002 Rank
1 Southwest Airlines, Co. 5,375,914 6,836,277 5,746,988 3
2 Delta Air Lines, Inc. 6,184,794 7,009,446 5,745,634 1
3 American Airlines, Inc. 5,624,627 6,699,904 5,271,735 2
4 United Airlines, Inc. 4,486,972 5,223,454 4,265,898 4
5 Northwest Airlines, Inc. 3,213,778 4,050,711 3,254,774 5
6 US Airways, Inc. 2,924,087 3,370,622 2,570,689 6
7 Continental Airlines, Inc. 2,226,421 2,806,609 2,228,328 7
8 America West Airlines, Inc. 1,469,130 1,779,472 1,495,731 8
9 Alaska Airlines, Inc. 982,664 1,393,919 1,032,805 9
10 American Eagle, Inc. 874,894 1,044,966 933,656 10

Source: T-100 Domestic Market

Table 4. Top 10 Airports ranked by September 2003 Domestic Enplanements

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Rank Airport Name September 2002 August 2003 September 2003 Sept. 2002 Rank
1 Hartsfield International, Atlanta 2,553,088 3,245,193 2,717,758 1
2 O'Hare International, Chicago 2,059,729 2,570,836 2,233,957 2
3 Dallas-Ft. Worth International 1,616,551 2,061,932 1,679,715 3
4 Los Angeles International 1,382,684 1,945,745 1,443,026 4
5 Denver International 1,193,567 1,661,733 1,378,344 6
6 Las Vegas-McCarron International 1,244,484 1,503,373 1,343,724 5
7 Phoenix Sky Harbor International 1,099,419 1,516,570 1,291,175 7
8 Minneapolis-St. Paul International 1,048,861 1,445,170 1,143,599 8
9 Detroit Metro Wayne County 1,004,100 1,272,998 1,089,979 9
10 Houston Intercontinental Airport 938,528 1,195,257 1,004,227 11

Source: T-100 Domestic Market

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics by commercial air carriers detailing operations, passenger traffic and freight traffic. September 2003 traffic data are preliminary and include data received by BTS as of Jan. 13. Data are subject to revision.

Revised data from August and previous months are posted on the BTS website at http://transtats.bts.gov. BTS will release October traffic in February.