The US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today that US airlines carried an all-time high number of passengers in 2016 – 823.0 million systemwide, 719.0 million domestic and 103.9 million international – surpassing the previous highs reached in 2015.
The airlines also set all-time annual highs for systemwide, domestic and international revenue passenger miles (RPMs) and available seat-miles (ASMs).
Although passenger trips handled by airlines reached an all-time high in 2016 there were more empty seats available because airlines expanded capacity at an even greater rate. Load factor – the measure of the use of airline capacity – declined from previous years.
The annual load factor declined from 2015 (83.8) to 2016 (83.4) because system capacity grew faster (3.9 percent increase in ASMs) than the growth in passenger travel (3.5 percent increase in RPMs).