U.S. continues air travel recovery, but still below 2019 volumes

The 18 largest U.S. airlines – which account for more than 90% of air traffic –carried 56.6 million passengers in May, up 19% over April of this year. Despite the uptick, this was still 30% below 2019 levels, the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics said last Monday.

The airlines carried 27% fewer domestic passengers and 51% fewer international passengers in May than in pre-pandemic May 2019 when there were 81 million passengers.

In April 2020, airlines carried only three million passengers, which was the lowest monthly total in BTS records dating back to 1974. The previous low was 14.6 million passengers in February 1975.

Traffic in May was up more than 600% over what U.S. airlines carried in May 2020 during COVID-19 shutdowns when there were just 8 million U.S. airline passengers.

For June, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports that U.S. domestic traffic improved from a 25.4% decline in May versus the same month in 2019, to a 14.9% decline in June.


International traffic

     North American carriers’ June demand fell 69.6% compared to the 2019 period, improving from the 74.2% decline in May versus two years ago, reports IATA.

Latin American airlines saw a 69.4% drop in June traffic compared to the same month in 2019, improved over the 75.3% decline in May compared to May 2019.

Globally, IATA reported total demand for air travel in June 2021 was down 60.1% compared to June 2019. That was a small improvement over the 62.9% decline recorded in May 2021 versus May 2019.