US summer air travel pressures »AirInsight

By | July 13, 2022

Air travel in the US seems to have recovered, in many ways, to former “normal” levels. The following chart shows that the volume of flights is much higher than in the past two years. Here are some ideas on understanding the pressures of air travel in the US summer.

When we look at traffic trends over time we see the following. 2 million lines is what is the average daily volume of air traffic for the US. We all remember that 2019 was the blockbuster year, but look at how traffic has recovered since the pandemic. We already know what everyday “normal” is.

When we add up the number of traffic flights, we get the following chart. The chart shows that flights, on average, are at a lower level of passengers/flights than before and have not yet recovered from the pandemic. Anecdotally, it’s hard to compare to anyone’s flying experience today – every flight seems oversold.

But here are the numbers based on the TSA’s daily count. Our base period is 1/1/2019.

Is there any variation in how this traffic is moved? Actually, there is already and although still small, the trend is growing. Airlines are starting to deploy larger aircraft.

Looking at the traffic moved by the single-aisle type of equipment gives us this view. The redder the color, the busier the type of aircraft. Noteworthy, in terms of MoM, is the relative stability of the 757-200 that the American has removed but remains with Delta and United. Equally important is the rise of the A321ceo and neo – only United don’t have this model yet – yet. The A320ceo/neo and the 737-800/900 hold their share, sort of. MAX8 and MAX9 are seeing growth.

The way out of the current puzzle of a pilot shortage, airport staff shortage, and squeezing more people than expected is to move to larger aircraft. It’s just physics. But the MAX9 may not have arrived fast enough and production of the A321 is running non -stop. The MAX10 can play a role in helping with this, too. But aircraft certification remains uncertain at this writing.

The bottom line is this: Airlines saw bookings a few months in advance and they didn’t plan to add people quickly. There is no doubt that they have reasons for not taking a job, justified or not. But even if they brought in more people in time, the right size fleet is not enough. Fleet decisions are long -term calls and cannot respond to a pandemic. That said, can network planners see the current compression? We think.


Co-Founder AirInsight. My past life has included stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Bitten by an aviation bug and ended up with Avgeek. Then I got a data bug, which caused me to be a curious Avgeek looking for data -based logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people where I learn a lot. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and talk to great people.


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