US passenger levels remain below pre-recession highs

Washington DC
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US Airlines carried 50 million scheduled domestic and international passengers in February, a 2.9% increase year-over-year. But those levels still remain 12.3% below pre-recession levels of February 2008, based on data compiled by the US government.

The preliminary statistics for February were released by the Department of Transportation on 12 May.

DOT explains from February 2008 to February 2010, the number of passengers carried by US airlines plummeted 14.7%. Passenger counts began their decline in April 2008, the agency said.

Domestic passenger levels show a similar pattern, said DOT. From February 2008 to the same month of 2010, domestic passengers carried by US airlines fell 15.4%. A slow recovery of the decline appears to be taking place as passenger counts increased 2.3% from March 2010 to February 2011.

For international passengers carried the decline was less severe and the recovery occurred faster, explained DOT. The fall-off did not occur until September 2008, and declined roughly 10% from February 2008 to February of 2010. For the time period spanning March 2010 to February 2011, international passengers on US airlines increased 6.5%.

DOT states system-wide load factor among US carriers, accounting for both domestic and international passengers, failed to attain record high levels for the first time in 19 months. The agency reasons overall capacity increased 4.9% year-over-year for the month of February, compared with 2.3% growth in January.

Much of the growth in overall capacity during February of this year is attributed to an expansion of 9.9% in international capacity, said DOT.