For Immediate Release

February 15, 2011
Contact: Henry J. Price
Phone: 202-267-3883


I. 2010 Summary: Economic Activity And Air Travel

  • U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased 2.2%; world GDP increased 3.6%.
  • Domestic mainline yields increased 5.2% while international yields increased 10.0%. In real terms (adjusted for inflation), domestic yields increased 3.4% and international yields increased 8.1%.
  • Domestic enplanements on mainline and regional air carriers increased from 630.8M in 2009 to 635.3M (0.7%) in 2010. Domestic mainline carrier enplanements dropped 0.7% while domestic regional carrier enplanements increased 5.0%. International enplanements on mainline and regional air carriers increased from 73.6M in 2009 to 77.4M (5.2%) in 2010. Mainline and regional international enplanements were both up 5.2%, respectively.
  • Domestic RPMs by mainline and regional air carriers increased from 548.6B in 2009 to 555.8B (1.3%) in 2010. Domestic mainline carrier RPMs increased 0.5% and domestic regional carrier RPMs increased 6.7%. International RPMs by US carriers increased from 221.3B in 2009 to 230.9B (4.3%) in 2010. Total system RPMs increased from 769.9B in 2009 to 786.7B (2.2%) in 2010. Total mainline carrier RPMs increased by 1.7% while total regional carrier RPMs increased by 6.6%.
  • U.S. commercial air carriers (including passenger and cargo) reported an operating profit of $9.5B in 2010, compared to an operating profit of $849.8M in 2009. Operating revenues increased 7.0% in 2010, while operating expenses increased 1.6%.
  • In 2010 total landings and takeoffs at combined FAA and contract towers were down 3.2% from 2009. Air carrier activity decreased by 1.4% while commuter/air taxi activity decreased by 1.1%. General aviation activity dropped 5.1% while military aircraft activity rose 0.9%.

II. Economic Assumptions For FAA Forecasts

  • U.S. Real GDP is forecast to increase from $13.2T in 2010 to $23.1T in 2031, an average annual rate of 2.7%. World GDP is forecast to grow at a faster pace of 3.3% over the same 21-year period, from $51.0T to $100.7T.
GDP by World Region (Average Annual Percent Growth)
World RegionFiscal YearCalendar Year
2010201120122011-312010201120122011-31
U.S2.22.32.82.72.82.42.92.7
Worldnananana3.63.03.53.3
Canadanananana2.92.32.92.3
Europe/Afr/MEnananana2.22.12.42.4
Latin Americanananana4.54.44.54.2
Asia/Pacificnananana6.24.65.04.6
  • Inflation is projected to increase 1.1% in 2011 and remain moderate over the remaining 20 years of the forecast period, averaging 2.0% annually.

III. Aviation Activity Forecasts

Mainline Air Carrier and Regionals

  • Total mainline air carrier and regional RPMs are forecast to increase from 786.7B in 2010 to 1.71T in 2031, an average annual rate of 3.8%. Domestic RPMs are projected to increase 3.5% in 2011 and then grow an average of 3.1% per year during the remaining 20-year forecast period. International RPMs are forecast to increase 8.4% in 2011 and then grow an average of 4.8% per year for the rest of the forecast period.
  • Total mainline air carrier and regional enplanements are forecast to increase from 712.6M in 2010 to 1.27B in 2031, an average annual rate of 2.8%. Domestic enplanements are projected to increase 3.0% in 2011 and then grow an average of 2.5% per year during the remaining 20-year forecast period. International enplanements are forecast to increase 7.8% in 2011 and then grow an average of 4.3% per year for the rest of the forecast period. Total system enplanements are expected to reach one billion in 2021.

Mainline Air Carriers

  • U.S. mainline carrier domestic RPMs are forecast to increase 3.4% in 2011 and grow at an average annual rate of 2.9% for the remaining 20 years of the forecast period. U.S. mainline carrier domestic enplanements are forecast to increase 2.8% in 2011. For the remaining 20 years of the forecast period, enplanements grow at an average annual rate of 2.4%, reaching 785.8M in 2031.
  • U.S. mainline carrier international RPMs are forecast to increase 8.4% in 2011 and grow at an average annual rate of 4.9% for the remaining 20 years of the forecast period. U.S. mainline carrier enplanements are forecast to increase 7.9% in 2011, and then grow an average of 4.4% per year thereafter, reaching 190.4M in 2031. The fastest growing region is Asia/Pacific (5.0% per year), followed by Latin America (4.9% per year), and the Atlantic (3.7% per year).
U.S. Mainline Air Carriers: Enplanements by World Region (Average Annual Percent Growth)
World RegionFiscal Year
2010201120122011-31
Domestic(0.7)2.83.22.4
International5.27.94.64.4
Atlantic(1.0)8.74.53.5
Latin America8.87.54.74.7
Asia/Pacific7.57.94.64.9
System0.13.53.42.8
  • Total passengers to/from the U.S. (U.S. and foreign flag carriers) are projected to increase 3.1% in 2011 (calendar year). The average annual rate of growth between 2010 and 2031 is 4.5%, with passengers increasing from 149.6M to 373.9M. The fastest growing region is Latin America at 5.1% per year, followed by Asia/Pacific (5.0% per year), Atlantic (3.9% per year) and Canadian Transborder (3.4% per year).
U.S. Mainline & Foreign Flag Air Carriers: Passengers by World Region (Average Annual Percent Growth)
World RegionCalendar Year
2010201120122011-31
Total U.S./Foreign Flag1.43.15.74.5
Atlantic(0.9)1.36.04.1
Latin America2.34.55.25.1
Asia/Pacific2.94.67.75.0
Canadian Transborder3.42.84.03.4
  • Domestic mainline passenger real yield (adjusted for inflation) is forecast to increase from 12.57 cents in 2010 to 12.82 cents in 2011 (up 2.0%). Thereafter, domestic mainline carrier real yield declines at an average rate of 0.8% dropping to 10.97 cents in 2031. International mainline real yield is forecast to increase from 12.86 cents in 2010 to 13.51 cents in 2011 (up 5.0%). Thereafter, international real yield declines at a rate of 0.9% annually, falling to 11.24 cents by 2031.
U.S. Mainline Air Carriers: Real Yield (Average Annual Percent Growth)
RegionFiscal Year
2010201120122011-31
Domestic3.42.01.3(0.8)
International8.15.00.6(0.9)
  • U.S. mainline air carrier passenger jet fleet increases from 3,713 aircraft in 2010 to 5,888 aircraft in 2031, an average annual increase of 2.2%. The fleet is projected to shrink by 0.5% in 2011 (19 aircraft), with most of the decrease attributed to the grounding of less fuel-efficient aircraft.

Regional Carriers

  • Regional carrier enplanements are forecast to increase 3.4% to 170.0M in 2011, and grow 2.8% a year thereafter, reaching 295.9M in 2031.
U.S. Regional Air Carrier Enplanements (Average Annual Percent Growth)
RegionFiscal Year
2010201120122011-2031
Domestic5.03.43.22.8
International5.23.43.22.8
  • Regional carrier RPMs are forecast to increase 4.3% in 2011 and grow at an average annual rate of 4.1% for the remaining 20 years of the forecast period.
  • The regional carrier passenger aircraft fleet increases from 2,577 aircraft in 2010 to 3,384 aircraft in 2031, an average annual increase of 1.3%. The fleet is projected to grow by 1.2% in 2011 (31 aircraft).
    • Regional jets increase from 1,771 aircraft in 2010 to 2,764 aircraft in 2031, an annual increase of 2.1%. All of the increase is attributed to jet aircraft in the 70-90-seat category.

Cargo

  • Total air cargo RTMs (freight/express and mail) increase from 35.9B in 2010 to 93.2B in 2031–up an average of 4.7% a year; domestic RTMs increase 2.8% a year; international RTMs increase 5.5% a year.
U.S. Commercial Air Carriers: Air Cargo Revenue Ton Miles (Average Annual Percent)
RegionFiscal Year
2010201120122011-2031
Domestic8.04.26.12.7
International20.66.48.15.4
Total15.75.67.44.6
  • The cargo fleet increases from 806 aircraft in 2010 to 1,251 aircraft in 2031, an average increase of 2.1% a year.

General Aviation

  • The general aviation fleet increases from 224,172 aircraft in 2010 to 270,920 in 2031, growing an average of 0.9% a year.
    • Fixed-wing turbine aircraft grow at a rate of 3.1% per year, fixed-wing piston aircraft grow at a rate of 0.2% per year, and rotorcraft grow at a rate of 2.6% per year.
  • General aviation hours flown are forecast to increase from 24.1M in 2010 to 37.8M in 2031, an average annual growth rate of 2.2% a year.
    • Fixed-wing turbine aircraft hours flown grow at a rate of 4.0% per year, fixed-wing piston aircraft hours flown grow at a rate of 0.7% per year, and rotorcraft hours flown grow at a rate of 3.0% per year.

IV. FAA Workload Forecasts

Operations at Airports with FAA Traffic Control and Contract Tower Service

  • Total operations are forecast to decrease 0.6% to 50.9M in 2011, and then grow at an average annual rate of 1.6% for the remainder of the forecast period, reaching 69.4M in 2031. The average annual growth rate for the entire 21-year forecast period is 1.5%.
    • Commercial operations increase 2.3% in 2011, and grow at a rate of 2.1% thereafter, reaching 33.9M in 2031.
    • General aviation operations decrease 3.1% in 2011, and grow at a rate of 1.2% thereafter, totaling 32.9M in 2031.

Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) Operations

  • TRACON operations are forecast to increase 0.1% to 39.0M in 2011, and then grow at an average annual rate of 1.8%for the remainder of the forecast period, reaching 55.3M in 2031. The average annual growth rate for the entire 21-year forecast period is 1.7%.
    • Commercial TRACON operations increase 2.1% in 2011, and grow at a rate of 2.1% thereafter, reaching 35.0M in 2031.
    • General aviation TRACON operations decrease 3.3% in 2011, and grow at a rate of 1.5% thereafter, totaling 17.9M in 2031.

Aircraft Handled at Air Route Traffic Control Centers

  • IFR aircraft handled at FAA air route traffic control centers are forecast to increase to 41.5M (2.4%) in 2011 and then grow 2.3% a year over the remaining 20 years of the forecast period, reaching 65.4M in 2031.
    • Commercial IFR aircraft handled increase from 31.0M in 2010 to 31.8M in 2011 (2.7%). Thereafter commercial IFR aircraft handled grow at an average annual rate of 2.6%, reaching 53.5M in 2031.
    • General aviation IFR aircraft handled increase 2.1% during 2011. Thereafter, general aviation IFR aircraft handled grow at an average annual rate of 1.4%, reaching 8.9M in 2031.

[1] All specified years are fiscal years (October 1 through September 30).

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