US Airlines Set New Passenger Record
Last year, all the nation’s airlines combined carried a total of 798.4 million passengers. That’s the equivalent of every single citizen in the United States flying more than twice, on average. Paying passengers traveled a combined 902.4 billion miles. To put that number into perspective, the distance between the Sun and Pluto is 3.67 billion miles. Unfortunately, this number does not include unknown stowaways hiding in the wheel wells. Planes were as full as they have ever been, with the average capacity at 83.8% percent.
The national air carriers are reaping the profits of this huge increase. Fuel costs have dropped considerably in recent times, making it cheaper to operate. The record for average capacity for airplanes also show they are maximizing profits for every flight out.
Mergers and acquisitions have seen four carries control almost three-quarters of all domestic travel (American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines). Ever since the national financial crisis in 2007, air travel has been steadily climbing back up. The top ten air carries reported a pre-tax earnings of over $23 billion, with a profit margin increase of 8.6%The previous records for each category were as follows:
- Total number of passengers: 769.6 million, set in 2007
- Percentage of filled seats (also known as load factor): 83.4%, set in 2014
- Miles traveled per each paying customer: 862.5 billion, set in 2014
These numbers look to be on the rise every year, and seem to be getting broken faster than three point scoring records in the NBA. It will be interesting to see if 2016 will yield even greater numbers for US transportation.
All statistics provided are courtesy of data that the United States Department of Transportation released on Thursday.