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2005 Domestic Airline Passenger Traffic Up 4.1 Percent From 2004

2005 Domestic Airline Passenger Traffic Up 4.1 Percent From 2004

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BTS 13-06
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Thursday, March 16, 2006 - U.S. airlines carried 4.1 percent more domestic passengers in 2005 on almost the same number of domestic flights as they operated in 2004, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) today reported in a release of preliminary data (Table 1).

BTS, a part of DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), reported that the airlines carried 660 million domestic passengers during 2005, up from the 635 million carried in 2004. The rise in passengers slowed during the final three months of 2005 when only 379,000 more passengers flew than during the same three months of 2004, an increase of 0.2 percent (Table 2). The passengers were carried on 10 million flights in each year (Table 1).

In other domestic comparisons from 2004 to 2005:

Revenue passenger miles, a measure of the number of passengers and the distance flown, were up 4.5 percent.

Available seat-miles, a measure of airline capacity using the number of seats and the distance flown, were up less than 1 percent.

Passenger load factor, passengers carried as a proportion of available seats, was up 2.7 load factor points.

Flight stage length, the average non-stop distance flown per departure, was up less than 2 percent.

Passenger trip length, the average distance flown per passenger, was 867 miles per trip, up only slightly from 864 miles in 2004.

Among airlines, Southwest Airlines carried 88 million domestic passengers during 2005, the most of any airline (Table 3).

Among airports, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was the busiest U.S. airport for domestic travel during 2005, with 39 million passenger boardings (Table 4).

December 2005 Airline Traffic

For the month of December 2005, U.S. airlines carried 53 million domestic passengers, 0.2 percent more than in December 2004 (Table 5).

These passengers were carried on 805,000 flights, down 4 percent from the 843,000 flights operated in December 2004.

In other month-to-month domestic comparisons from December 2004 to December 2005:

Revenue passenger miles, a measure of the number of passengers and the distance flown, were up 2 percent.

Available seat-miles, a measure of airline capacity, were down 2 percent.

Passenger load factor, passengers carried as a proportion of available seats, was up 3.0 load factor points.

Flight stage length, the average non-stop distance flown per departure, was up 3 percent.

Passenger trip length, the average distance flown per passenger, was up 2percent.

Among airlines, Southwest Airlines carried 7 million domestic passengers during December, the most of any airline (Table 6).

Among airports, Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta was the busiest U.S. airport for domestic travel in December with 3 million passenger boardings (Table 7).

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."

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers detailing operations, passenger traffic and freight traffic. December traffic data are preliminary and include data received by BTS from 128 airlines as of March 14. Data are subject to revision.

Revised data from November 2005 and previous months are posted on the BTS website at http://transtats.bts.gov. BTS will release January traffic data and revised data from December and previous months on April 13.

Table 1: Domestic Airline Travel in 2005 and 2004

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  2004 2005 Change
Passengers 634,545,438 660,480,345 4.1%
Flights 10,090,680 10,090,274 0.0%
Revenue Passenger Miles(000) 547,958,502 572,885,732 4.5%
Available Seat Miles(000) 735,476,938 742,273,242 0.9%
Load Factor 74.5 77.2 2.7 points
Flight Stage Length* 594 605 1.8%
Passenger Trip Length** 864 867 0.4%

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Domestic Market and Segment

* The average non-stop distance flown per departure in miles

** The average distance flown per passenger in miles

Table 2: Total Industry Domestic Enplanements

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Month 2003 2004 2005 2004-2005 Pct. Change
January 43,365,042 44,223,065 48,220,892 9.0%
February 41,465,866 45,712,118 47,344,117 3.6%
March 50,404,158 54,649,236 59,178,294 8.3%
April 47,380,661 53,740,731 55,248,870 2.8%
May 49,413,200 53,421,459 57,587,754 7.8%
June 52,562,332 57,381,300 60,007,322 4.6%
July 56,167,980 60,067,644 62,746,539 4.5%
August 54,347,183 57,793,104 59,431,824 2.8%
September 44,605,229 47,996,736 50,775,534 5.8%
October 50,372,738 54,582,605 53,970,706 -1.1%
November 47,478,546 52,054,399 52,961,934 1.7%
December 50,146,795 52,923,041 53,006,559 0.2%
Annual Total 587,709,730 634,545,438 660,480,345 4.1%

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Domestic Market

Table 3: Top 10 Airlines, ranked by 2005 Domestic Enplanements

Ranked by 2005 domestic passenger enplanements
Passengers in millions (000,000)

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2005 Rank Carrier 2005 Passengers 2004 Rank 2004 Passengers
1 Southwest 88 1 81
2 Delta 78 2 79
3 American 77 3 73
4 United 55 4 60
5 Northwest 47 5 46
6 US Airways 37 6 38
7 Continental 33 7 32
8 America West 21 8 20
9 American Eagle 17 9 14
10 AirTran 17 12 13

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Domestic Market

Table 4: Top 10 Airports ranked by 2005 Domestic Enplanements

Ranked by 2005 domestic passenger enplanements
Passengers in millions (000,000)

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2005 Rank Airport Name 2005 Passengers 2004 Rank  2004 Passengers
1 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta 39 1 38
2 Chicago O'Hare 31 2 31
3 Dallas-Ft. Worth 26 3 26
4 Los Angeles Int'l 21 4 21
5 Las Vegas McCarran 20 6 19
6 Denver 20 5 20
7 Phoenix Sky Harbor 19 7 19
8 Minneapolis-St.Paul 17 8 16
9 Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County 16 9 15
10 Houston Bush Intercontinental 16 11 14

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Domestic Market

Table 5: Domestic Airline Travel in December

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  Dec 2004 Dec 2005 Change
Passengers 52,923,041 53,006,559 0.2%
Flights 842,678 805,437 -4.4%
Revenue Passenger Miles(000) 45,501,397 46,426,090 2.0%
Available Seat Miles(000) 62,517,523 61,238,551 -2.0%
Load Factor 72.8 75.8 3.0 points
Flight Stage Length* 604 622 3.0%
Passenger Trip Length** 860 876 1.9%

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Domestic Market and Segment

* The average non-stop distance flown per departure in miles

** The average distance flown per passenger in miles

Table 6: Top 10 Airlines, ranked by December 2005 Domestic Enplanements

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Dec 2005 Rank Carrier Dec 2005 Passengers Dec 2004 Rank Dec 2004 Passengers
1 Southwest 7,260,803 1 6,628,179
2 American 6,418,518 3 6,122,148
3 Delta 5,516,023 2 6,596,761
4 United 4,618,922 4 4,783,477
5 Northwest 3,552,911 5 3,843,788
6 Continental 2,933,328 7 2,692,307
7 US Airways 2,466,772 6 3,081,361
8 America West 1,683,637 8 1,675,469
9 AirTran 1,495,076 11 1,212,609
10 American Eagle 1,414,947 9 1,245,386

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Domestic Market

Table 7: Top 10 Airports ranked by December 2005 Domestic Enplanements

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Dec 2005 Rank Airport Name Dec 2005 Passengers Dec 2004 Rank Dec 2004 Passengers
1 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta 3,063,473 1 3,206,105
2 Chicago O'Hare 2,540,092 2 2,504,120
3 Dallas-Ft. Worth 2,150,771 3 2,117,884
4 Los Angeles Int'l 1,721,939 4 1,759,427
5 Denver 1,638,539 5 1,606,829
6 Phoenix Sky Harbor 1,607,197 6 1,556,407
7 Las Vegas McCarran 1,595,068 7 1,504,973
8 Houston Bush Intercontinental 1,379,465 10 1,253,510
9 Minneapolis-St.Paul 1,299,754 8 1,343,021
10 Orlando 1,279,965 11 1,212,242

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Domestic Market