by Mark Albert
Annual passengers on all U.S. scheduled airlines (domestic and international) from 2003-2016; courtesy USDOT
WASHINGTON (TVR) – A record 823 million passengers flew on U.S. airlines last year and carriers also surpassed previous highs in revenue passenger miles and available seat miles, both key financial metrics, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced.
A total of 719 million passengers flew domestically, while 103.9 million flew internationally. Those combined totals from 2016 broke a record set the previous year, in 2015.
But while the number of people flying American carriers has never been higher, paradoxically, planes also flew with more empty seats, due to airlines increasing capacity after self-imposed restraint during the Great Recession, the USDOT numbers showed.
Passenger traffic in 2016 increased over the prior year by a healthy 3.1%, the USDOT said, up from the previous record of 798.2 million passengers.