FAA`s 28th Annual Aviation Forecast

WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of
Transportation’s Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) today released its
annual FAA Aerospace Forecast for
fiscal years 2003-2014. The forecast
indicates an eventual recovery in
demand for aviation products and
services, but at a slower rate than
last year’s forecast estimates. Last
year, passenger traffic was expected to
return to pre-Sept. 11, 2001, levels of
growth by fiscal year 2004. This year,
a return to pre-Sept. 11 activity
levels has been moved back slightly to
the 2005 through 2006 time period. 

The forecast provides airline planners
a prediction tool to respond to a
rapidly changing airspace system and
highlights the administration’s various
initiatives to help airlines meet the
need for safer, more efficient travel.

“Our national aviation strategy must be
built upon the ability of our
infrastructure to support inevitable
growth and change in the industry,”
said U.S. Transportation Secretary
Norman Y. Mineta. “This administration
is committed to the vitality of the
aviation industry and, most
importantly, providing the public even
greater levels of safe, efficient air
In addition to industry, the forecast
is also a valuable tool for FAA
“This year’s forecast underscores the
point that rapidly changing industry
conditions demand the FAA put
operational realities at the forefront
of our planning,” said FAA
Administrator Marion C.
Blakey. “Anticipating change and an
integrated approach to installing new
air traffic control systems, exploiting
new aircraft technologies and employing
a consistent, common-sense approach to
oversight and regulation can facilitate
the industry’s recovery.”

This year’s forecast predicts passenger
enplanements of 646.9 million in 2003,
679.8 million in 2004, 709.1 million in
2005, and 737.6 million in 2006.  While
last year’s forecast predicted
enplanements to reach one billion by
2013, this milestone is not expected to
be reached during the 12-year forecast
period, with enplanements reaching
996.2 million by 2014. The reduced pace
of U.S. commercial and general
aviation’s recovery is due largely to
the lingering effects of the 2001
economic slowdown and events
surrounding Sept. 11, 2001.

While the FAA has taken great care to
provide an accurate forecast, some
important variables could affect
severely the industry’s ability to
recover and bolster revenue. Some of
these include:
áThe possibility of military actions,
terrorist acts and corresponding
security measures;
áHigher jet fuel and oil prices
associated with volatility in the
Middle East; and
áThe potential for more airline
bankruptcies, as well as the industry’s
current financial condition, which may
also have an impact on the amount of
services offered to travelers.


The most encouraging news in the FAA
forecast comes from the
regional/commuter industry segment. 
These are airlines that predominantly
utilize aircraft with 70 seats or less.
This segment of air travel is expected
to grow at a faster rate over the
forecast’s 12-year period than the
larger domestic commercial carriers.
Regional/commuter airlines are expected
to grow at 5.6 percent annually as
compared to the larger airlines growing
at a rate of 3.5 percent annually.
Stronger growth is expected to result
from additional passengers obtained
through arrangements with larger code-
sharing partners, as well as the
creation of more nontraditional point-
to-point routings that use new regional

Air cargo is also expected to grow at
rates higher than those predicted for
passenger traffic, with domestic and
international Revenue Ton Miles (RTMs)
increasing at annual rates of 3.9 and
5.8 percent respectively over the 12-
year FAA forecast period.

For general aviation, the FAA predicts
low to moderate increases.  For the 12-
year time frame covered by the
forecast, the agency sees a 0.7 percent
increase in its active fleet, and hours
flown to increase by 1.5 percent
annually. Most of this growth is
expected to occur in business and
corporate flying.

Members of the news media who want hard
copies of the forecast should contact
FAA Public Affairs at (202) 267-3883. 
A copy of the forecast is also
available at: