U.S. Airline Performance Trends

February 2018 U.S. Airline Traffic Data

An airplane in the sky - Photo by Jordan Sanchez on Unsplash
February 2018 U.S. Airline Traffic Data

Infographic - February 2018 U.S. Airline Traffic DataU.S. airlines’ February systemwide (domestic and international) scheduled service passenger enplanements rose 1.4 percent from January, rising to 72.8 million to reach a new all-time seasonally-adjusted high.

Figure 1. Seasonally-Adjusted Systemwide Passenger Enplanements on All U.S. Scheduled Airlines (Domestic & International), February 2015 - February 2018

Enplanements in millions (Seasonally Adjusted)

Graph - February 2018 U.S. Airline Traffic Data

One month: January 2018 to February 2018: domestic enplanements rose 1.5 percent and international enplanements on U.S. airlines’ international flights to and from the U.S. rose 0.8 percent for a 1.4 systemwide increase.

One year: February 2017 to February 2018, domestic enplanements rose 5.0 percent while international enplanements rose 4.0 percent for a 4.8 systemwide increase.

Three years: February 2015 to February 2018, domestic enplanements rose 12.6 percent while international enplanements rose 8.6 percent for a 12.0 systemwide increase.

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

Seasonally-Adjusted Trends

New seasonally-adjusted all-time highs

Passenger enplanements: Systemwide domestic and international passenger enplanements reached new seasonally-adjusted all-time highs.

Revenue passenger-miles: Systemwide, domestic and international revenue passenger miles (RPMs) reached new seasonally-adjusted all-time highs.

Available seat-miles: Systemwide domestic and international available seat-miles (ASMs) reached new seasonally-adjusted all-time highs.

Load Factor

Systemwide load factor (83.6) was down 1.2 points from the all-time seasonally-adjusted high (84.8) reached in October 2015. Domestic and international load factor both declined.

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 load factor rose from January (83.2) to February (83.6) because passenger travel grew faster (1.0 percent increase in RPMs) than system capacity (0.5 percent increase in ASMs).

Seasonally-adjusted trends are for the time period January 2000 to present. Additional data, including domestic and international numbers, can be found on the seasonally-adjusted data  page.

Unadjusted Trends

Figure 2. Unadjusted Systemwide Passenger Enplanements on All U.S. Scheduled Airlines (Domestic & International), February 2015 - February 2018 Enplanements in millions (Unadjusted)

Graph - February 2015 - February 2018 Enplanements in millions (Unadjusted)

New February unadjusted all-time highs

Passenger enplanements: Systemwide domestic and international passenger enplanements reached new highs for the month of February. While unadjusted passenger enplanements declined from the previous month, enplanements set a record for the month of February.

One month: January 2018 to February 2018: domestic enplanements fell 3.0 percent and enplanements on U.S. airlines’ international flights to and from the U.S. declined 11.2 percent for a 4.1 percent systemwide decrease.

One year: February 2017 to February 2018, domestic enplanements rose 5.9 percent while international enplanements rose 4.6 percent for a 5.7 systemwide increase.

Three years: February 2015 to February 2018, domestic enplanements rose 14.7 percent while international enplanements rose 9.2 percent for a 13.9 systemwide increase.

Revenue passenger-miles: Systemwide, domestic and international revenue passenger miles (RPMs) reached new highs for the month of February.

Available seat-miles: Systemwide domestic and international available seat-miles (ASMs) reached new highs for the month of February.

Load Factor

Systemwide load factor (80.1) was down 0.1 points from the all-time February high (80.2) reached in 2015. Domestic load factor (81.8) was down 0.6 points from the all-time February high (82.4) reached in 2015. International load factor (76.0) reached an all-time February high, up 0.4 points from the previous high (75.6) reached in 2013.           

The load factor rose from February 2017 (79.0) to February 2018 (80.1) because passenger travel grew faster (6.2 percent increase in RPMs) than system capacity (4.7 percent increase in ASMs).

Unadjusted trends are for the time period January 1996 to present. Data are available at Customize Table and can be downloaded from the seasonally-adjusted data  page.

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.



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