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U.S. Airlines December 2020 Passengers Decreased 62% from December 2019 (Preliminary)

Release Number: 
BTS 11-21
Date: Tuesday, February 16, 2021

U.S. airlines carried 62% fewer scheduled service passengers in December 2020 than in December 2019 (preliminary), according to data filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by 22 airlines that carry more than 90% of the passengers.  The 62% decline from December 2019 was slightly larger than the 61% year-to-year decline from November 2019 to November 2020.

The large airlines carried 30 million passengers in December 2020 (preliminary), compared to 79 million passengers in December 2019 and up from 3 million in April 2020, which was the lowest monthly total in BTS records dating back to 1974.  The previous low was 14.6 million passengers in February 1975.

Preliminary December 2020 passenger numbers (22 carriers reporting):

  • Total: 30.4 million passengers, down 62% from December 2019 (79.0M)
  • Domestic: 27.2 million passengers, down 61% from December 2019 (69.5M)
  • International: 3.2 million passengers, down 66% from December 2019 (9.5M)

U.S. airline traffic reports are filed monthly with BTS. Final December data will be released on March 11.  Complete international data by origin and destination, which is under a six-month confidentiality restriction, will be released on June 10.

Systemwide Passengers
December 2020 passengers:  30.4M
Change from December 2019:  -62% (79M.0)
Percent of 2019 passengers:  38%
Change from April 2020 low: +27.4M
 
 
Table 1: Systemwide Percent Change in US Airlines Scheduled Service Passengers from the Same Month of the Previous Year, 2016-2020
Year-to-Year Percent Change
 2016-20172017-20182018-20192019-2020
January3.83.05.25.7
February0.65.84.26.7
March4.24.66.4-51.3
April5.26.03.9-96.1
May3.76.15.3-89.6
June3.96.23.7-80.2
July4.46.43.7-72.4
August5.66.33.5-69.8
September-1.97.15.7-65.2
October5.15.04.2-61.8
November5.05.70.5-60.7
December3.94.88.9-61.5
Annual3.75.64.6-60.1
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Market
* December 2020 data is preliminary
 
Domestic Passengers
December 2020 passengers:  27.2M
Change from December 2019:  -61% (69.5M)
Percent of 2019 passengers:  39%
Change from April 2020 low: +24.3M
Domestic percent of total December 2020 passengers:  89%
Domestic percent of total December 2019 passengers:  88%
 
Table 2: Domestic Percent Change in US Airlines Scheduled Service Passengers from the Same Month of the Previous Year, 2016-2020
Year-to-Year Percent Change
 2016-20172017-20182018-20192019-2020
January3.93.35.36.2
February0.76.04.27.5
March4.74.26.7-51.0
April4.57.03.8-95.7
May3.46.65.3-88.5
June3.66.63.6-77.8
July4.27.23.9-69.6
August5.66.93.5-67.1
September-2.17.25.9-62.7
October5.25.04.3-59.9
November5.05.80.3-59.4
December4.25.09.6-60.9*
Annual3.65.94.6-58.7
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Domestic Market
* December 2020 data is preliminary
 
International Passengers
December 2020 passengers:  3.2M
Change from December 2019:  -66% (9.5M)
Percent of 2019 passengers:  34%
Change from April 2020 low: +3.1M
International percent of total December 2020 passengers:  11%
International percent of total December 2019 passengers:  12%
 
Table 3: International Percent Change in US Airlines Scheduled Service Passengers from the Same Month of the Previous Year, 2016-2020
Year-to-Year Percent Change
 2016-20172017-20182018-20192019-2020
January3.11.34.82.1
February-0.34.83.81.0
March1.17.43.8-53.3
April10.6-0.64.7-98.6
May6.22.75.7-98.1
June5.93.74.3-96.4
July5.11.92.3-90.4
August5.62.53.9-87.5
September-0.36.34.7-83.7
October3.94.63.4-77.3
November5.85.02.4-70.3
December2.03.64.0-66.0*
Annual4.13.54.0-70.4
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 International Market
* December 2020 data is preliminary

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 U.S. airlines as of Feb. 4.

See the BTS Airlines and Airports page for additional U.S. airlines numbers through October for U.S. airlines. International data by origin and destination is available through July.

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

Updated: Tuesday, February 16, 2021