U.S. Airline Struggles Continue a Year After Onset of Pandemic

April 13, 2021 by TWN Staff
United Airlines planes parked at Orlando International Airport on April 7, 2020. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

WASHINGTON – U.S. airlines carried 61% fewer passengers in February 2021 than in February 2020, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Transportation Department.

The analysis, which was carried out by the department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, suggests airlines serving U.S. passengers are still a long what from recovering the pandemic.

To compile its latest figures, the bureau focused on the 22 airlines that carry more than 90% of the U.S. passengers.

February was the fifth straight month of year-over-year declines slightly above 60%.

The large airlines carried an estimated 26.5 million passengers in February 2021, compared to 67.6 million passengers in February 2020 and 3.0 million in April 2020, which was the lowest monthly total in BTS records dating back to 1974. The previous low was 14.6 million passengers in February 1975.

Of the total passengers that traveled by air in February 2021, 24.4 million of them were domestic passengers, down 59% from February 2020, when the number came in at 59.6 million.

About 2.1 million passengers who flew to a location in the U.S. were international passsengers, down 73% from February 2020, when 7.9 million did so.

U.S. airline traffic reports are filed monthly with BTS. Final February data will be released on May 13.  Complete international data by origin and destination, which is under a six-month confidentiality restriction, will be released on Aug. 12.

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