Air travelers still staying on ground

The number of scheduled domestic and international passengers on U.S. airlines in Dec. 2009 decreased by 0.6 percent from Dec. 2008, decreasing by 0.4 million to 57 million, the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported.

The Dec. 2009 passenger total was 6.2 percent below that of Dec. 2007.

BTS, in a release of preliminary data, reported that U.S. airlines carried 0.7 percent fewer domestic passengers in Dec. 2009 than in Dec. 2008. The number of international passengers on U.S. carriers increased 0.3 percent. The system, domestic and international load factors in Dec. 2009 were all the highest ever for the month of December.

For the full year 2009, the number of scheduled domestic and international passengers on U.S. airlines declined by 5.3 percent from 2008, dropping to 703.9 million, 39.4 million fewer than a year earlier, and the lowest annual total since 2004.

The full-year system load factor of 80.4 percent and the domestic load factor of 81.1 were annual record highs.

For the year, U.S. airlines carried 5.2 percent fewer domestic passengers and 6.3 percent fewer international passengers in 2009 than in 2008.

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