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BTS Releases December Airline Traffic Data; December 2003 Domestic Traffic Down 1.2 Percent From December 2002

BTS Releases December Airline Traffic Data; December 2003 Domestic Traffic Down 1.2 Percent From December 2002

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BTS 05-04
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Thursday, March 11, 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 49.3 million domestic passengers in December, 1.2 percent less than in December 2002 (Table 1).

These passengers were carried on 779,837 flights, down 1.2 percent from the flights operated in December 2002.

In other domestic comparisons from December 2002 to December 2003:

Revenue passenger miles, a measure of the number of passengers and the distance flown, were up 0.5 percent.

Available seat-miles, a measure of airline capacity, were up 3.6 percent.

Load factor, a measure of how many seats are sold and used, was down 2.2 percentage points.

Flight stage length, the average non-stop distance, was up 6.0 percent.

Passenger trip length, the average distance passengers travel, was up 1.8 percent.

In the fourth quarter of 2003, airlines carried 2.8 percent more passengers on 1.3 percent fewer flights than in 2002. (Table 2A)

Among airlines, Delta Airlines carried 6.5 million domestic passengers in December, the most of any airline (Table 3).

Among airports, Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta continued in December to be the busiest domestic airport, with 3.1 million passenger boardings (Table 4).

Table 1: Domestic Airline Travel in December

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  December 2002 December 2003
Passengers 49,943,623 49,333,847
Flights 789,099 779,837
Revenue Passenger Miles(000) 41,720,737 41,940,583
Available Seat-Miles(000) 57,257,280 59,292,201
Load factor 72.90% 70.70%
Flight stage length 577 611
Passenger trip length 835 850

Source: T-100 Domestic Market and Segment

Table 2. Total Industry Domestic Enplanements

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Month 2002 2003
January * 43,436,159
February * 41,529,612
March * 50,475,121
April * 47,559,030
May * 49,582,440
June * 52,699,681
July * 56,215,894
August * 54,387,522
September * 44,362,041
October 48,322,274 50,192,395
November 44,270,732 46,947,616
December 49,943,623 49,333,847

Source: T-100 Domestic Market

* Comparable numbers are not available for earlier months. Commuter and small certificated carriers began reporting traffic data in October 2002.

Table 2A: Domestic Airline Travel in the 4th Quarter

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Month 4th Quarter 2002 4th Quarter 2003
Passengers 142,536,629 146,473,858
Flights 2,383,605 2,352,574
Revenue Passenger Miles (000) 116,950,649 123,263,932
Available Seat-Miles (000) 168,992,935 173,807,245
Load factor 69.20% 70.90%
Flight stage length 567 597
Passenger trip length 821 842

Source: T-100 Domestic Market and Segment

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 December 2003 Domestic Enplanements

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Rank Airline Name December2002 November 2003 December2003 Dec. 2002 Rank
1 Delta Airlines 7,233,741 6,240,097 6,503,916 1
2 Southwest Airlines 6,109,854 6,013,106 6,119,147 3
3 American Airlines 6,477,632 5,449,401 5,449,401 2
4 United Airlines 5,074,698 4,391,521 4,742,188 4
5 Northwest Airlines 3,746,283 3,393,827 3,723,150 5
6 US Airways 3,264,567 3,088,498 3,128,235 6
7 Continental Airlines 2,667,298 2,493,280 2,672,575 7
8 America West Airlines 1,579,566 1,499,507 1,569,945 8
9 Alaska Airlines 1,082,705 1,042,001 1,133,722 9
10 American Eagle Airlines 927,208 1,014,337 1,059,268 10

Source: T-100 Domestic Market

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

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Rank Airline Name December2002 November 2003 December2003 Dec. 2002 Rank
1 Hartsfield-Jackson International 3,088,839 2,929,038 3,077,887 1
2 O'Hare International 2,402,166 2,318,863 2,406,496 2
3 Dallas-Ft Worth International 1,993,161 1,942,290 2,006,637 3
4 Los Angeles International 1,707,000 1,551,266 1,668,936 4
5 Denver International 1,440,118 1,284,380 1,493,820 6
6 Phoenix Sky Harbor International 1,478,807 1,337,713 1,462,861 5
7 Las Vegas McCarran International 1,209,454 1,372,095 1,305,447 9
8 Minneapolis-St. Paul International 1,244,717 1,143,194 1,282,399 7
9 Detroit Metro Wayne International 1,227,307 1,142,559 1,242,975 8
10 George Bush Intercontinental 1,150,807 1,100,066 1,198,414 10

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. December 2003 traffic data are preliminary and include data received by BTS from 100 airlines as of Mar. 9. Data are subject to revision.

Revised data from November and previous months are posted on the BTS website at http://transtats.bts.gov. BTS will release January traffic data on Apr. 15.