BTS Indicators Report Shows Rebound in Airline Travel

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) today released its monthly Transportation Indicators report showing that air travel and air freight levels began to show a slight recovery in the early months of this year.

Although passenger and freight numbers for February domestic flights remained down from a year earlier, they did not fall as much as the same measures fell in January.

Revenue enplanementsøthe number of passengers boarding flightsøfell 11 percent from February 2001, dropping from 47.6 million to 42.4 million. In January, enplanements dropped 13 percent from a year earlier.

A second measure of air travel, domestic revenue passenger miles (RPMs)øone passenger transported one mileøwas 9 percent lower in February than a year earler.  In January, RPMs were down 12 percent from January 2001.

The comparable measure for freight, revenue ton-milesøone ton of freight transported one mileøwas also down 9 percent from February 2001.  Revenue ton-miles were down 14 percent in January compared to a year earlier.


Dr. Ashish Sen, BTS Director, said, “Transportation Indicators offers a wide range of data that are updated monthly to track the transportation system’s operations since Sept. 11.  BTS will continue to monitor the nation’s transportation system through this monthly report.”

The BTS Transportation Indicators report is a monthly update of critical transportation information that details the impact of transportation on the nation’s economy and society.

These numbers are based on reports filed with BTS by the nation’s major, national, large regional and medium regional carriers.  They do not include the small regional and commuter carriers.

Transportation Indicators provides information on more than 300 trends in the areas of safety, mobility, economic growth, the human and natural environment, and national security.  The monthly report, which is available at, provides information to address specific transportation issues and to assist in the effort led by BTS to make transportation information more accurate, reliable and timely.  Updated reports will be available on the BTS website at the end of every month.

Other trends highlighted in this month’s report are:     

Preliminary estimates for 2001 show 41,730 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2001, a decline of 0.2 percent from 2000.  There was a 4 percent decline in the number of people injured in motor vehicle crashes, from about 3.2 million in 2000 to 3.1 million in 2001 * Rail intermodal traffic in the week ending May 11 was 11 percent higher in the U. S. and 12 percent higher in Canada than in the comparable week last year * April consumer prices for gasoline were 10 percent above March prices, the third highest increase in the last 12 years.  The April figure was 9 percent lower than the level in April 2001 * Consumer prices for new cars and trucks have decreased 3 percent since 1997, while consumer prices for all other components of private transportation have increased * April producer prices for highway and street construction were 4 percent below April 2001, the second largest decline in the 10-year period tracked by this report.

Average real hourly earnings of Class I Railroad workers have fallen over 20 percent since 1992, while train-miles per employee-hour rose 50 percent * Operating revenues for large air carriers were down 26 percent in the fourth quarter of 2001 from a year earlier, while expenses declined 12 percent. Passenger revenues were down 30 percent and freight revenues were down 8 percent * Business investment in transportation equipment was 7 percent lower in the first quarter of 2002 than the first quarter of 2001 * Retail gasoline cost 37 cents per gallon more in Los Angeles than in Atlanta in April * U.S. travel exportsøthe amount spent on intercity and local fares, hotels and restaurants, admission fees, and souvenirs by Americans traveling abroadøincreased 21 percent in the first quarter of 2002 over the last quarter of 2001.  Over that period, U.S. travel importsøthe amount spent by foreign visitors to the U.S.øgrew 20 percent.  Travel exports remained 11 percent lower than in the first quarter of 2001 while imports were 17 percent lower.

Transportation energy consumption was 4 percent lower in January than in January 2001 * The U.S. imported 12 percent less petroleum, on a net basis, in March than in March 2001 * Continual updating of information on trends will help in developing forecasts for the future, both within the department and outside.  The monthly report will also help transportation decision-makers spot changes that might require rapid action * The validity of these statements has not been statistically tested. BTS is testing a statistical monitoring process in order to apply statistical quality control techniques to the Indicators data.