Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

 Find the latest Coronavirus-related transportation statistics on the BTS COVID-19 landing page.

United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

U.S. Airlines Carry 58.4 Million Passengers in September 2021 (Preliminary), Still Down 20% from Pre-Pandemic September 2019

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

BTS 69-21
Contact: Todd Solomon
Tel:  202-366-0573
todd.solomon@dot.gov

 

 

U.S. airlines carried 58.4 million passengers in September 2021 (preliminary), compared to 25.1 million passengers in September 2020 according to data filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by 20 airlines that carry more than 90% of passengers. The 133% increase was the smallest year-over-year growth since March (see Figure 2). September 2021’s tally of 58.4 million passengers is down 19.5% from pre-pandemic September 2019’s 72.6 million.

 

Preliminary September 2021 passenger numbers (20 carriers reporting):

  • Total: 58.4 million passengers, up 133% from September 2020 (25.1M)
  • Domestic: 53.6 million passengers, up 126% from September 2020 (23.7M)
  • International: 4.8 million passengers, up 245% from September 2020 (1.4M)

 

U.S. airline traffic reports are filed monthly with BTS. Final September data will be released on December 16.  Complete international data by origin and destination, which is under a six-month confidentiality restriction, will be released in March 2022.

 

Systemwide Passengers

  • September 2021 passengers:  58.4M
  • Change from September 2020:  133%
  • Change from September 2019: -19.5%
  • Change from April 2020 COVID-19 low: +55.5M passengers

 

Table 1: Systemwide Percent Change in US Airlines Scheduled Service Passengers from the Same Month of the Previous Year, 2017-2021

 

Year-to-Year Percent Change

 

2017 - 2018

2018 - 2019

2019 - 2020

2020 - 2021

January

3.0

5.2

5.7

-61.5

February

5.8

4.2

6.7

-60.8

March

4.6

6.4

-51.3

9.5

April

6.0

3.9

-96.1

1492.3

May

6.1

5.3

-90.1

617.3

June

6.2

3.7

-80.3

300.3

July

6.4

3.7

-72.4

206.7

August

6.3

3.5

-69.8

164.6

September

7.1

5.7

-65.2

132.5*

October

5.0

4.2

-61.8

 

November

5.7

0.5

-60.7

 

December

4.8

8.9

-61.5

 

Jan - Sep

5.8

4.6

-59.8

67.1

Annual

5.6

4.6

-60.2

 

 Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Market
* September 2021 data is preliminary

 

Domestic Passengers

  • September 2021 passengers:  53.6M
  • Change from September 2020:  126%
  • Change from September 2019:  -16%
  • Change from April 2020 COVID-19 low: +50.8M passengers
  • Domestic percent of total September 2021 passengers:  92%
  • Domestic percent of total September 2020 passengers:  94%
  • Domestic percent of total September 2019 passengers:  88%

 

Table 2: Domestic Percent Change in US Airlines Scheduled Service Passengers from the Same Month of the Previous Year, 2017-2021

 

Year-to-Year Percent Change

 

2017 - 2018

2018 - 2019

2019 - 2020

2020 - 2021

January

3.3

5.3

6.2

-60.6

February

6.0

4.2

7.5

-59.1

March

4.2

6.7

-51.0

14.3

April

7.0

3.8

-95.7

1426.5

May

6.6

5.3

-89.0

571.6

June

6.6

3.6

-77.9

272.8

July

7.2

3.9

-69.6

191.1

August

6.9

3.5

-67.1

153.3*

September

7.2

5.9

-62.7

125.8*

October

5.0

4.3

-59.9

 

November

5.8

0.3

-59.4

 

December

5.0

9.6

-60.9

 

Jan - Sep

6.1

4.6

-58.2

68.0

Annual

5.9

4.6

-58.7

 

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Domestic Market
*September 2021 data is preliminary

 

International Passengers

  • September 2021 passengers:  4.8M
  • Change from September 2020:  245%
  • Change from September 2019:  -50%
  • Change from April 2020 COVID-19 low: +4.7M passengers
  • International percent of total September 2021 passengers:  8%
  • International percent of total September 2020 passengers:  6%
  • International percent of total September 2019 passengers:  12%

 

Table 3: International Percent Change in US Airlines Scheduled Service Passengers from the Same Month of the Previous Year, 2017-2021

 

Year-to-Year Percent Change

 

2017 - 2018

2018 - 2019

2019 - 2020

2020 - 2021

January

1.3

4.8

2.1

-67.5

February

4.8

3.8

1.0

-73.4

March

7.4

3.8

-53.3

-25.7

April

-0.6

4.7

-98.6

2923.3

May

2.7

5.7

-98.1

2530

June

3.7

4.3

-96.4

1414.6

July

1.9

2.3

-90.4

525.8

August

2.5

3.9

-87.5

360.0

September

6.3

4.7

-83.7

245.1*

October

4.6

3.4

-77.3

 

November

5.0

2.4

-70.3

 

December

3.6

4.0

-66.0

 

Jan - Sep

3.2

4.2

-70.2

58.3

Annual

3.5

4.0

-70.4

 

 Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 International Market
*September 2021 data is preliminary

 

Reporting Notes

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial U.S. air carriers detailing operations, passenger traffic and freight traffic. This release includes data received by BTS from U.S. airlines as of November 9, 2021.

See the BTS Airlines and Airport page for additional U.S. airlines numbers through August 2021 for U.S. airlines. International data by origin and destination is available through May 2021.

None of the data are from samples. Measures of statistical significance do not apply to the complete air traffic data.