A report released by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration shows that U.S. flagship claims of market incursion in U.S. airspace by foreign carriers does not stand up to scrutiny of passenger numbers and market share.

Overall, international traffic in and out of the U.S. increased six percent in 2015 to a new record high of 209.1 million passengers.

The U.S.-International Passenger Traffic report prepared by the International Trade Administration shows various advantages U.S. flagship airlines have in markets to and from the U.S. and abroad.

U.S. flagship airlines had the larger share of international traffic to and from the U.S. though the larger share of travellers were foreign nationals.

In all, the passenger numbers carried by U.S. flagship airlines only slightly exceeded the combined total of passengers carried by all foreign airlines travelling to and from the country. (104.601 million vs. 104.510 million).

Top 10 Airlines Serving U.S. International Non-Stop Markets

AirlinePassengers (mlns)% Chg Y-o-Y
1. United Airlines30.504-0.10%
2. Delta Air Lines24.1184.50%
3. American Airlines*24.0498.20%
4. British Airways7.2280.50%
5. JetBlue Airways6.43211.60%
6. US Airways*6.197n/a
7. Lufthansa5.6933.20%
8. WestJet4.3261.10%
9. Air Canada (mainline)4.049-5.60%
10. Air France3.7177.50%

* American Airlines and US Airways merged in October 2015
Note: 116.3 million Passengers, 56% of Total Air Traffic

However, U.S. citizens travelling were 93.437 million, versus non-U.S. citizens 115.674 million, with U.S. citizens making up 44.7% percent of the market, and non-U.S. citizens representing 55.3%.

In foreign markets—overseas air traffic—U.S. airlines also have an advantage.

While in total numbers, compared to all foreign carriers combined, the U.S. flagship carriers still carry fewer passengers than foreign airlines, the difference is slight.

U.S. flag carriers transported 73.877 million passengers in overseas market last year (47.8% of the market). Foreign flag airlines carried 80.783 million (52.2% of the market).

Here again, the number of U.S. citizens travelling is lower 68.625 million (44.4% of the market) versus 86.036 million non-U.S. citizens (55.6%).

Most of the passenger traffic in foreign markets is still concentrated in Europe, the report shows: 59.397 million passengers, representing 28% of all International traffic. Asia is second at 31.415 million passengers, 15% of the market.

The contentious Gulf carriers own a market of only 1.172-3.077 million passengers carried. Etihad carries the fewest passengers, slightly lower than Qatar Airways, and Emirates carries more passengers than the other two combined, but still only a small fraction of the passengers carried by U.S. Flagships.

“The Gulf carrier passenger share was 2.6% of all international passenger traffic to/from the U.S., up from 2.1% during 2014. Over 2.8 million passengers were inbound to the U.S. of which 1.7 million were foreign travelers,” the report states.

North American neighbors are not performing as well as their U.S. flagship counterparts in market share.

U.S. carriers have almost 42% share of the air travel market in Canada, and 73% of air travel market in Mexico.

The top foreign airport for competition in flights to/from the U.S. continues to be London Heathrow
with 14.806 million passengers.

Toronto is second with 12.371 million, and Tokyo Narita is third with 9.289 million.

The top U.S. Airports serving passenger traffic to/from foreign airports are: New York Laguardia (30.438 million), Miami (21.3 million) and Los Angelles (20.866 million).

The top three airlines serving International non-stop markets are: United Airlines (30.504 million), Delta Air Lines (24.118 million), and American Airlines (24.049 million, without including U.S. Airways traffic through October 2015 of 6.197 million).

The share of passengers carried by U.S. flagship alliance partner airlines is significantly lower than their U.S. counterparts.

United’s partner Lufthansa carried 5.693 million passengers to/from the U.S.

Delta partner Air France carried 3.717 million, and American partner British Airways carried 7.228 million passengers.

This dominance over European counterparts was in part facilitated by Open Skies agreements singed between 2007-2011 which created “a single air transport market between the EU and the US with free flows of investment and no restrictions on air services, including access to the domestic markets of both parties.”

Photo Credit: Passengers inside New York-JFK Terminal 4. Skift