The U.S. Transportation Department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics says today that the number of scheduled domestic and international passengers on U.S. airlines and on flights to and from the United States on foreign airlines declined in 2009 by 5.3 percent from 2008, dropping to 769.6 million.
The declines were biggest in the first half of last year. Traffic picked up markedly through the second half of the year, though.
The report says that:
--U.S. airlines carried 5.2 percent fewer domestic passengers in 2009 and 6.3 percent fewer international passengers than in 2008. Passengers to and from the United States on foreign carriers decreased 4.8 percent compared with 2008.
--Total passengers on U.S. airlines and on foreign airlines to and from the United States declined from the same month in 2008 in 10 of the 12 months. The largest decline, 12.4 percent, took place in February. During the first six months of 2009, the number of passengers declined 9 percent from the same period in 2008. During the last six months, the decline was 1.4 percent.
--Southwest Airlines carried more total system passengers in 2009 than any other U.S. airline for the third consecutive year. American Airlines carried more international passengers to and from the United States in 2009 than any other U.S. or foreign carrier for the 20th consecutive year.
--More total system passengers boarded planes in 2009 at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International than at any other U.S. airport, and more international passengers boarded planes at New York John F. Kennedy than at any other U.S. airport.