Airline Traffic Data

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Estimated November 2018 U.S. Airline Traffic Data

Release Number: 
BTS 59-18
Date: Thursday, December 13, 2018

U.S. airlines’ carried an estimated 74.1 million systemwide (domestic and international) scheduled service passengers, seasonally-adjusted, in November 2018, virtually unchanged from the October estimate, according to a Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) first estimate.

The November air traffic estimate released today is a statistical estimate based on U.S. airlines reported data through September. BTS will release a second forecast of U.S. airlines’ November air traffic on Jan. 11, followed by a release of the reported data on Feb. 14.

Enplanements in millions (Seasonally Adjusted)
Enplanements in millions (Seasonally Adjusted)
Nov-1567.4
Dec-1567.9
Jan-1667.8
Feb-1667.7
Mar-1667.2
Apr-1667.9
May-1668.6
Jun-1668.8
Jul-1668.5
Aug-1667.8
Sep-1669.4
Oct-1669.4
Nov-1669.5
Dec-1669.6
Jan-1769.7
Feb-1769.6
Mar-1770.0
Apr-1770.5
May-1770.9
Jun-1770.8
Jul-1772.0
Aug-1771.1
Sep-1768.5
Oct-1772.2
Nov-1772.2
Dec-1772.3
Jan-1871.7
Feb-1873.0
Mar-1873.3
Apr-1874.1
May-1874.1
Jun-1875.1
Jul-1875.9
Aug-1874.6
Sep-1872.6
Oct-1874.1
Nov-1874.1

One-Month Estimate: Estimated October 2018 to estimated November 2018 domestic enplanements remained virtually unchanged percent while enplanements on U.S. airlines’ international flights to and from the U.S. fell 0.4 percent for virtually no systemwide change.

One-Year Estimate: Reported November 2017 domestic enplanements rose 3.1 percent to estimated November 2018 domestic enplanements while estimated international enplanements fell 0.1 percent for a 2.7 percent systemwide increase.

Three-Year Estimate: Reported November 2015 domestic enplanements to estimated November 2018 domestic enplanements rose 10.7 percent while international enplanements rose 4.4 percent for a 9.9 percent systemwide increase.

Unadjusted Estimate: Systemwide, domestic, and international enplanements all reached estimated highs for the month of November compared to reported data for previous years.

For the October and November estimates and for data filed through September, see accompanying tables. For the complete database of reported data, see Traffic.

Additional Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) air traffic data:

Seasonally-adjusted

New seasonally-adjusted all-time highs in November 2018

Available seat-miles: Systemwide, domestic, and international available seat miles (ASMs) reached new estimated seasonally-adjusted all-time highs compared to reported data through September.

Load Factor

Systemwide load factor (82.5) was estimated down 2.6 points from the all-time seasonally-adjusted high (85.1) reported in July 2018. Estimated domestic load factor (83.5) was estimated down 2.8 points from the all-time seasonally-adjusted high (86.3) reported in July 2018. Estimated international load factor (80.0) was estimated down 3.1 points from the all-time seasonally-adjusted high (83.1) reached in March 2013.

Load factor is a measure of the use of aircraft capacity that compares the system use, measured in RPMs as a proportion of system capacity, measured ASMs.

The estimated seasonally-adjusted load factor declined from October (82.7) to November (82.5) despite estimated growth in passenger travel (0.1 percent increase in RPMs) because estimated system capacity grew faster (0.4 percent increase in ASMs).

Seasonally-adjusted trends are for the time period January 2000 to present based on data reported by U.S. airlines through September and BTS estimates for the two most recent months. Additional data, including domestic and international numbers, can be found on the seasonally-adjusted data  page.

Unadjusted Trends

Enplanements in millions (Unadjusted)
Enplanements in millions (Unadjusted)
Nov-1564.6
Dec-1566.4
Jan-1660.8
Feb-1658.5
Mar-1670.6
Apr-1667.2
May-1671.5
Jun-1674.5
Jul-1676.9
Aug-1673.5
Sep-1666.5
Oct-1669.5
Nov-1666.6
Dec-1668.0
Jan-1762.6
Feb-1758.4
Mar-1773.0
Apr-1770.3
May-1773.7
Jun-1777.0
Jul-1779.8
Aug-1777.1
Sep-1764.9
Oct-1772.7
Nov-1769.6
Dec-1770.3
Jan-1864.4
Feb-1861.7
Mar-1876.3
Apr-1873.6
May-1877.3
Jun-1880.9
Jul-1884.0
Aug-1881.1
Sep-1868.7
Oct-1874.4
Nov-1872.1

Estimated November unadjusted all-time highs

Passenger enplanements: Estimated systemwide, domestic, and international passenger enplanements reached new highs for the month of November compared to reported data for previous years.

One-Month Estimate: Estimated October 2018 to estimated November 2018 domestic enplanements decreased 3.1 percent while enplanements on international flights to and from the U.S. fell 3.0 percent for a 3.1 percent systemwide decline.

One-Year Estimate: Reported November 2017 domestic enplanements rose 3.9 percent to estimated November 2018 domestic enplanements while international enplanements rose 0.7 percent for a 3.5 systemwide increase.

Three-Year Estimate: Reported November 2015 domestic enplanements to estimated November 2018, domestic enplanements rose 12.5 percent while international enplanements rose 4.0 percent for a 11.6 systemwide increase.

Unadjusted revenue passenger-miles: Systemwide, domestic, and international revenue passenger miles (RPMs) reached new estimated highs for the month of November compared to reported data for previous years.

Unadjusted available seat-miles: Systemwide, domestic, and international available seat miles (ASMs) reached new estimated highs for the month of November compared to reported data for previous years.

Load Factor:           

Estimated unadjusted systemwide load factor (82.4) was down 1.4 points from the all-time November high for reported data reached in 2017 (83.8). Domestic load factor (84.3) was down 1.5 points from the all-time November high (85.8) reached in 2017. International load factor (77.4) was down 2.2 points from the all-time November high (79.6) reached in 2012.

Unadjusted load factor declined from the reported November 2017 (83.8) to the estimated November 2018 (82.4) despite estimated growth in passenger travel (4.6 percent increase in RPMs) because estimated system capacity grew faster (6.3 percent increase in ASMs).

Unadjusted trends are for the time period January 1996 to present based on data reported by U.S. airlines through September and BTS estimates for the two most recent months. Data through September are available at Customize Table. Reported data and estimates for the two most recent months can be downloaded from the seasonally-adjusted data  page.

U.S. Airlines Reported Data for September

Seasonally Adjusted: U.S. airlines carried 74.6 million systemwide (domestic and international) scheduled service passengers, seasonally-adjusted, in September 2018 down 2.8 percent from August.

One Month: August 2018 to September 2018 domestic enplanements declined 2.9 percent while enplanements on international flights to and from the U.S. declined 2.1 percent for a 2.8 percent systemwide seasonally-adjusted decline.

One Year: September 2018 to September 2018 domestic enplanements rose 6.0 percent while international enplanements rose 5.5 percent for a 5.9 percent systemwide seasonally-adjusted increase.

Three Years: September 2015 to September 2018 domestic enplanements rose 8.0 percent while international enplanements rose 4.8 percent for a 7.6 percent systemwide seasonally-adjusted increase.

Unadjusted: Systemwide, domestic, and international enplanements all reached all-time highs for the month of September.

One Month: Domestic enplanements declined 14.1 percent while enplanements on international flights to and from the U.S. declined 22.7 percent for a 15.2 percent systemwide unadjusted decline from August 2018 to September 2018.

One Year: Domestic enplanements rose 5.9 percent while international enplanements rose 5.9 percent for a 5.9 percent systemwide unadjusted increase from September 2017 to September 2018.

Three Years: Domestic enplanements rose 8.0 percent while international enplanements rose 6.2 percent for a 7.8 percent systemwide unadjusted increase September 2015 to September 2018.

Explanation of estimates

Estimates derived from a forecast of the data. The first estimate is a 2-month ahead forecast of the data. When an additional month of data become available, BTS uses the data to re-forecast the month and releases a second estimate. BTS performs the forecasting using the Census X-12 procedure in SAS – a statistical software program.

Explanation of seasonal adjustment

When the primary purpose is to examine monthly shifts in transportation services output and analyze short-term trends, the variation introduced by normal seasonal changes must be removed from the data. Transportation is highly seasonal, and without adjustment, the data do not give an accurate picture of underlying changes in aviation, passenger travel.

Seasonal adjustment of the data removes the seasonal events that follow a regular seasonal pattern. Changes that are not due to seasonality, such as a change in air travel resulting from economic conditions become more readily apparent.

The aviation data are seasonally adjusted for the effects of trading day, moving holidays, and data outliers.

See Seasonal Adjustment for methodology and additional explanation.

Reporting Notes

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial U.S. air carriers detailing operations, passenger traffic and freight traffic. This release includes data received by BTS from 80 U.S. carriers as of Dec. 4 for U.S. carrier scheduled civilian operations.

See the BTS Airlines and Airports page for additional scheduled service numbers through September for U.S. and foreign airlines. International data by origin and destination is available through June.

BTS has scheduled Jan. 11 for the release of the first estimate of December air traffic data, the second estimate of the November air traffic data and reported data through October.

None of the data are from samples. Measures of statistical significance do not apply to the complete air traffic data.

Updated: Thursday, December 13, 2018