DBEA55AED16C0C92252A6554BC1553B2 Clicky DBEA55AED16C0C92252A6554BC1553B2 Clicky
June 14, 2024
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The data suggest that US domestic air travel is back on its trendline.

DoT; AirInsight

The following chart offers further evidence. The DoT count is through May 25, so we have several more days for month-end numbers. Hence, the red arrow highlights this.

DoT; AirInsight

The circles above the first four months highlight that new highs have been coming steadily.

Moreover, we get this chart by looking at flights and traffic together.

DoT; AirInsight

If trends continue, 2024 will be the new high point for traffic and flights.

Using January 1, 2019, as our base point at 100, we developed this chart tracking flights and traffic.

DoT; AirInsight

The chart shows how airlines added back flights post-pandemic.  With the benefit of seeing forward bookings and government payroll (PPP) support, the industry felt confident to bring back capacity.  Passenger traffic came back, too – with revenge travel being “a thing” at the time.  Fortunately for this, the devastated travel and tourism industry was given a crucial boost.

The curves show flights now at 139.25 and traffic at 121.68.  That is a healthy recovery. Although the recovery curves follow the Nike Swoosh shape, several dips and sharp recoveries are noted.

To even out these spikes, here are two charts showing rolling averages for monthly and weekly numbers.

DoT; AirInsight

The charts show that traffic recovery is accelerating faster than capacity. These are all encouraging signs for the travel and tourism industry. They are also encouraging for the airline industry, as there appears to be a growing need for employees to keep the system going and growing again.

Two final charts to underscore the industry recovery.

DoT; AirInsight

The US domestic air travel system typically processed ~2.3 million travelers in 2019. As the chart clearly illustrates, we are significantly over that volume now.   Next, look at this guide for the load factor.

DoT; AirInsight

The average number of passengers per flight was 115 in 2019. We are approaching that now, and summer travel has not started.

In summary, the US domestic air travel system looks like being in rude health, which is great for everyone in the industry silo.  For passengers? It will be crowded, and it’s best to expect delays.  Use our travel planner model to improve your perspective.

author avatar
Addison Schonland
Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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