Bureau of Transportation Statistics

U.S. airlines carried an estimated 78.1 million system-wide (domestic and international) scheduled service passengers in October 2019, seasonally-adjusted, reaching a new seasonally-adjusted all-time high, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) first estimate, up 0.9% from the September second estimate.

BTS estimated 68.5 million domestic passengers, which was also a new seasonally-adjusted all-time high, and 9.6 million international passengers on U.S. airlines flights in October.

U.S. airline traffic reports are filed monthly with BTS. See the tables that accompany this release on the BTS website for summary data since 2016 (Tables 1-24) and complete data since 2000.

This release is a statistical estimate based on U.S. airlines reported data through August. BTS will release a second estimate of U.S. airlines October air traffic on Dec 12, followed by a release of the reported data on Jan 17.

Figure 1. Monthly Passengers on U.S. Scheduled Airlines (Domestic + International), Seasonally Adjusted, Oct 2016 – Oct 2019 (Sept 2019-Oct 2019 estimated) Passengers in millions (Seasonally Adjusted)Notes: 

Most recent two months estimated

Four measures of U.S. airlines passenger enplanements

Estimated October seasonally adjusted

  • System-wide enplanements (78.1M) reached an estimated new all-time, seasonally-adjusted, high compared to reported data through August and estimate for September.
  • Domestic enplanements (68.5M) reached an estimated new all-time, seasonally-adjusted, high compared to reported data through August and estimate for September.
  • International enplanements (9.64M) were estimated down 1.2% from the all-time, seasonally-adjusted, reported high of 9.76 million reached in June 2019.

Reported August seasonally adjusted

  • System-wide enplanements (77.8M) were down 0.3% from the all-time, seasonally-adjusted, reported high of 78.0 million reached in July 2019.
  • Domestic enplanements (68.2M) were down 0.3% from the all-time, seasonally-adjusted, reported high of 68.4 million reached in July 2019.
  • International enplanements (9.61M) were down 1.6% from the all-time, seasonally-adjusted, reported high of 9.76 million reached in June 2019.

Estimated October unadjusted

  • System-wide enplanements (79.2M) reached a new estimated all-time high for the month of October.
  • Domestic enplanements (70.5M) reached a new estimated all-time high for the month of October.
  • International enplanements (8.74M) reached a new estimated all-time high for the month of October.

Reported August unadjusted

  • System-wide enplanements (83.8M) reached a new reported all-time high for the month of August.
  • Domestic enplanements (72.7M) reached a new reported all-time high for the month of August.
  • International enplanements (11.07M) reached a new reported all-time high for the month of August.

Table A. Seasonally Adjusted Estimated and Reported Passenger Enplanements Compared to Previous Time Periods, October 2019 Estimate

Seasonally Adjusted Passengers (in millions) Percent Change Compared to
Previous Month Previous Year Three Years Previous
October estimate 78.1 0.9% 4.4% 13.0%
August reported 77.8 -0.3% 4.2% 14.6%

Export Table Data Table B. Unadjusted Estimated and Reported Passenger Enplanements Compared to Previous Time Periods, October 2019 Estimate

Unadjusted Passengers (in millions) Percent Change Compared to
Previous Year Two Years Previous Three Years Previous
October estimate 79.2 4.9% 9.0% 13.9%
August reported 83.8 3.4% 8.7% 14.1%

Export Table Data

Year-to-Date

For the first 10 months of 2019, January through October, U.S. airlines carried 775.2 million passengers, the highest total based on comparable records since 2003. The January-October number has reached a new high for five consecutive years. The 2019 10-month number is up 4.3% from 2018, up 9.3% from 2017 and up 12.4% from 2016. Numbers are unadjusted with 2019 consisting of eight months reported data and two months estimated.

Figure 2. January-October Passengers on U.S. Airlines – 2003-2019Passengers in millions, unadjusted (000,000)

For the September and October estimates and for data filed through August, see accompanying tables. For the complete database of reported data, see Traffic. For an explanation of BTS’ seasonal adjustment methodology, see Seasonal Adjustment.

BTS Estimates

For seasonally-adjusted passenger numbers, BTS first estimates have averaged within 0.8% of reported data while second estimates have averaged within 0.6% of reported data.

For unadjusted passenger numbers, BTS first estimates have averaged within 1.0% of reported data while second estimates have averaged within 0.7% of reported data.

For an explanation of BTS’ estimate methodology see Air Traffic Methodology.

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