Skift Take

A small ray of sunshine for the big three legacy U.S. carriers engaging in a bloody Open Skies battle, although United and American probably aren't happy Southwest saw the most year-over-year passenger growth of any U.S. carrier.

U.S. and foreign airlines serving U.S. destinations carried 848.1 million domestic and international passengers in 2014, an all-time high and a 2.5% increase over 2013 based on data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Delta Air Lines carried the most domestic and international passengers on U.S. flights for the fifth consecutive year (129.2 million) but it’s Southwest Airlines that packed the most momentum. Southwest saw the greatest year-over-year growth (10.3%) and carried 127.1 million passengers last year within or from the U.S., nearly 40 million more passengers than both United Airlines and American Airlines, which each saw negligible growth in 2014.

United carried more passengers on international flights to and from the U.S. in 2014 than any other U.S. or foreign carrier for the third consecutive year (25.7 million) and British Airways carried the more passengers on flights to and from the U.S. than any other foreign carrier (6.9 million).

Denver International Airport’s rivalry with New York’s JFK Airport is among other highlights from the data. Last year, Denver had 25.94 million domestic and international passengers board flights on U.S. and foreign carriers versus JFK’s 25.91 million, a difference of 29,000 passengers. This puts Denver directly above JFK in fifth place among the top 10 busiest U.S. airports, also ahead of San Francisco International Airport and Las Vegas McCarran International Airport.

Leading the overall record high number of passengers was the 2.6 percentage point rise year-over-year in the number of domestic passengers (662.3 million). A 2.3% increase in the number of passengers on U.S. and foreign airline flights to and from the U.S. (185.8 million) was another record high even though foreign airlines carried 2.3% fewer passengers to and from the U.S. compared to 2013.

November and December were the only months that experienced year-over-year percentage decreases (5.4% and 2.6%, respectively) for the number of international passengers on U.S. flights serviced by U.S. and foreign carriers. Revenue passenger miles also increased 3% year-over-year from $1.1 trillion to $1.2 trillion.

Travel on U.S. Carriers and Foreign Carriers’ U.S. Flights

2013 2014 % Change
Passengers (in millions) 827.3 848.1 2.5
Flights (in thousands) 9,724.70 9,486.90 -2.4
Revenue Passenger Miles (in billions) 1,172.50 1,207.70 3
Available Seat-Miles (in billions) 1,416.70 1,459.90 3
Load Factor (change in points) 82.8 82.7 0
The average non-stop distance flown per departure in miles 884.6 912.4 3.1
The average distance flown per passenger in miles 1,417.40 1,424.10 0.5

U.S. Airlines Ranked by Number of Scheduled Domestic and International Passengers on U.S. Flights in 2014

2014 Rank Carrier 2014 Number of Passengers (Millons) 2013 Rank 2013 Number of Passengers (Millions) % Change 2013-2014
1 Delta Air LInes 129.21 1 120.389 7.3
2 Southwest Airlines* 127.195 2 115.323 10.3
3 United Airlines 90.373 3 90.113 0.3
4 American Airlines 87.83 4 86.823 1.2
5 US Airways 57.514 5 57.007 0.9
6 JetBlue Airways 32.056 7 30.428 5.4
7 ExpressJet Airlines 30.95 6 32.957 -6.1
8 SkyWest Airlines 27.786 8 27.139 2.4
9 Alaska Airlines 20.935 9 19.7 6.3
10 Envoy Air 16.11 11 17.748 -9.2

*Southwest’s numbers do not include AirTran. The merged Southwest and AirTran reported separately through December 2014.

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

November 16, 2022
Dallas-Fort Worth, TX and Online
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Tags: air traffic, bts, skiftstats

Photo credit: A passenger at Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport. Skift