U.S. airlines carried an estimated 78.3 million systemwide (domestic and international) scheduled service passengers in November 2019, reaching a new seasonally-adjusted all-time high, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) first estimate, up 0.2% from the October second estimate.

BTS estimated 68.5 million domestic passengers and 9.8 million international passengers on U.S. airlines flights in November. The domestic and international passenger numbers were both seasonally-adjusted all-time highs.

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 September. BTS will release a second estimate of U.S. airlines November air traffic on Jan. 17, followed by a release of the reported data on Feb. 13.

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

Most recent two months estimated

Four measures of U.S. airlines passenger enplanements

Estimated November seasonally-adjusted

  • System-wide enplanements (78.3M) reached a new all-time, seasonally-adjusted, high based on the estimate compared to reported data through September and estimate for October.
  • Domestic enplanements (68.5M) reached a new all-time, seasonally-adjusted, high based on the estimate compared to reported data through September and estimate for October.
  • International enplanements (9.8M) reached a new all-time, seasonally-adjusted, high based on the estimate compared to reported through September and estimate for October.

Reported September seasonally-adjusted

  • System-wide enplanements (77.3M) were down 0.9% from the all-time, seasonally-adjusted, reported high of 78.0 million reached in July 2019.
  • Domestic enplanements (67.6M) were down 1% from the all-time, seasonally-adjusted, reported high of 68.4 million reached in July 2019.
  • International enplanements (9.63M) were down 1.3% from the all-time, seasonally-adjusted, reported high of 9.75 million reached in June 2019.

Estimated November unadjusted

  • Systemwide enplanements (73.2M) reached a new estimated all-time high for the month of November.
  • Domestic enplanements (64.8M) reached a new estimated all-time high for the month of November.
  • International enplanements (8.41M) reached a new estimated all-time high for the month of November.

Reported September unadjusted

  • Systemwide enplanements (72.6M) reached a new reported all-time high for the month of September.
  • Domestic enplanements (64M) reached a new reported all-time high for the month of September.
  • International enplanements (8.61M) reached a new reported all-time high for the month of September.

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

Seasonally Adjusted Passengers (in millions) Percent Change Compared to
Previous Month Previous Year Three Years Previous
November estimate 78.3 0.2% 4.6% 12.6%
September reported 77.3 -0.7% 5.2% 10.5%

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

Unadjusted Passengers (in millions) Percent Change Compared to
Previous Year Two Years Previous Three Years Previous
November estimate 73.2 0.6% 5.1% 9.9%
September reported 72.6 5.7% 11.8% 9.2%

Export Table Data

The October second estimate of 78.1 million systemwide passengers, seasonally adjusted, was unchanged from the first estimate issued last month. The number of domestic passengers was revised from 68.5 million to 88.3 million. The number of international passengers was revised from 9.6 million to 9.8 million.

The September reported number of system-wide passengers, seasonally-adjusted, was 77.3 million, compared to the second estimate of 77.4 million. The number of reported domestic passengers was 67.6 million compared to the second estimate of 67.9 million.  The number of reported international passengers was 9.6 million compared to the second estimate of 9.5 million.

Year-to-Date

For the first 11 months of 2019, January through November, U.S. airlines carried 848.0 million passengers, the highest total based on comparable records since 2003. The January-November number has reached a new high for five consecutive years. The 2019 11-month number is up 3.9% from 2018, up 8.9% from 2017 and up 12.2% from 2016. Numbers are unadjusted with 2019 consisting of nine months reported data and two months estimated.

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

For the October and November estimates and for data filed through September, 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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