Skift Take

Although it can be difficult to spot trends via monthly updates, the small increases and decreases in air traffic are signs of larger shifts in the global travel industry.

Sixty-one million travelers flew to and from the United States in the first four months of 2014, a six percent increase over the same period last year, according to data released today by the National Travel and Tourism Office.

Every month, the OTTI releases data regarding recent travel activity, including details about international air passenger traffic to and from the United States. This is the most recent month for which this information is available.

For statistics on U.S. outbound tourism in March 2014, see here.

The number of U.S. citizens flying abroad increased seven percent, representing 43 percent of all air traffic, while non-U.S. citizens increased six percent to represent 57 percent of market share.

Total overseas air travel is almost exactly split between U.S. and foreign flag carriers.

The largest markets for air traffic to and from the U.S. are Europe and Asia, which combined account for 39 percent of all international traffic. The markets that experienced the largest growth in the first fourth months of 2014 versus 2013 are the Middle East and Central America.

Overseas regions performed as follows:

Overseas Regions Passengers (mlns) % of all International % Change 2014 / 2013
Europe 14.957 24% 5.0%
Asia 9.251 15% 4.4%
Caribbean 6.822 11% 5.4%
South America 4.884 8% 4.2%
Central America 3.671 6% 11.5%
Middle East 2.311 4% 15.1%
Oceania 1.394 2% 3.1%
Africa 0.397 1% -3.9%

Almost a third, or 28 percent, of international traffic is between the U.S. and Mexico or Canada. Mexico air traffic increased more significantly, up 12 percent in comparison to the previous year, while air traffic between the U.S. and Canada only grew by 5 percent.

Canada captures a slightly larger share of the North American market at 15 percent.

Air traffic between the U.S. and Canada performed as follows:

Canada Region Passengers (mlns) % Chg y-o-y Market Share
U.S. Citizens 1.75 6% 19.20%
Non-U.S. Citizens 7.38 5% 80.20%

An interesting difference in the two markets is the kind of carriers that serve them.

Foreign carriers account for slightly more market share, 59 percent, than U.S. carriers to and from the U.S. and Canada. The opposite is seen in Mexico where U.S. carriers account for 78 percent of air traffic.

Air traffic between the U.S. and Mexico performed as follows:

Mexican Region Passengers (mlns) % Chg y-o-y Market Share
U.S. Citizens 5.31 13% 65.20%
Non-U.S. Citizens 2.83 9.50% 34.80%
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Tags: air traffic, skiftstats

Photo credit: Flight students watch as a Boeing 747 LCF Dreamlifter cargo plane takes off at Jabara airport in Wichita, Kan., on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. Jaime Green / Wichita Eagle/MCT

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