For Immediate Release

February 28, 2006
Contact: Henry J. Price
Phone: (202) 267-3883


  1. 2005 Summary: Economic Activity and Air Travel
    • U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased 3.6 percent; world GDP increased 3.3 percent.
    • Domestic mainline yields fell 1.7 percent and are at their lowest level since 1987 while international yields rose 4.4 percent. In real terms (adjusted for inflation), domestic yields fell 4.8 percent and international yields increased 1.1 percent.
    • Domestic enplanements on mainline and regional air carriers increased from 628.5 million in 2004 to 669.8 million (6.6 percent increase) in 2005. Domestic mainline carrier enplanements rose 4.1 percent, while domestic regional enplanements rose 16.5 percent. International enplanements on mainline and regional air carriers increased from 61.4 million in 2004 to 68.8 million (12.1 percent increase) in 2005. Mainline carrier international enplanements were up 11.9 percent and regional enplanements were up 15.7 percent.
    • U.S. mainline air carriers reported an operating loss of $1.5 billion in 2005; in 2004 mainline air carriers reported operating profits of $0.5 billion. Operating revenues increased to $142.7 billion (9.7 percent increase) in 2005, while operating expenses increased to $144.2 billion (11.4 percent increase).
    • In 2005, total landings and takeoffs at combined FAA and contract towers declined 0.1 percent. Air carrier and commuter/air taxi aircraft increased their activity levels by 4.6 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively. General aviation and military aircraft activity declined 2.5 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively. Commercial activity is at its highest level ever, while non-commercial activity is at 1982 levels.
  2. Economic Assumptions for FAA Forecasts
    • U.S. Real GDP is forecast to increase from $11 trillion in 2005 to $16 trillion in 2017, an average annual rate of 3.1 percent. World GDP is also forecast to grow at an annual rate of 3.1 percent over the same 12-year period, from $36.1 trillion to $52.2 trillion.

      GDP By World Region
      (Average Annual Percent Growth)
      World Region Fiscal Year Calendar Year
      2005 2006 2007 2007-17 2005 2006 2007 2007-17
      U.S. 3.6 3.4 3.3 3.1 3.6 3.4 3.3 3.1
      World n/a n/a n/a n/a 3.3 3.3 3.3 3.1
      Canada n/a n/a n/a n/a 2.8 2.8 2.7 2.5
      Europe n/a n/a n/a n/a 2.2 2.5 2.7 2.5
      Latin America n/a n/a n/a n/a 4.3 3.6 3.9 3.9
      Asia Pacific n/a n/a n/a n/a 3.8 3.9 3.7 3.6
    • Inflation is projected to increase 3.3 percent in 2006 and then remain moderate over the remaining 11 years of the forecast period, averaging 2.5 percent annually.
    • The price of oil (refiner’s acquisition cost) increases 15 percent in 2006, and then declines until 2011, where it bottoms out at $50.61 per barrel. Thereafter, refiner’s acquisition cost increases, reaching $56.77 per barrel in 2017. The average annual growth rate for the price of oil over the entire 12-year forecast period is 1.5 percent.
  3. Aviation Activity Forecasts
    • Mainline Air Carrier and Regionals
      • Total mainline air carrier and regional enplanements are forecast to increase from 738.6 million in 2005 to 1.07 billion in 2017, an average annual rate of 3.1 percent. Domestic enplanements are projected to dip slightly in 2006 (0.2 percent decrease) as a result of schedule cutbacks and then grow an average of 3.2 percent per year during the remaining 11-year forecast period. International enplanements are forecast to increase 4.5 percent in 2006 and then average 5 percent per year for the rest of the forecast period. Total system enplanements are expected to reach one billion in 2015.
    • Mainline Air Carriers
      • Schedule cutbacks implemented by mainline carriers result in domestic enplanements declining 1 percent from levels posted in 2005. For the remaining 11 years of the forecast period, enplanements grow at an average annual rate of 2.9 percent, reaching 707.1 million in 2017. Domestic mainline carrier enplanements are projected to return to pre-September 11 levels in 2009.
      • U.S. mainline carrier international enplanements are forecast to grow 4.1 percent in 2006, and then grow an average of 5.0 percent per year thereafter, reaching 114.1 million in 2017. Average annual percent growth in enplanements for the entire forecast period by route is: Pacific 6.6 percent; Latin America 4.9 percent; Atlantic 3.8 percent.

        US. Mainline Air Carriers Enplanements By World Region (Average Annual Percent Growth)
        World Region Fiscal Year
        2005 2006 2007 2007-17
        Domestic 4.1 -1.0 3.0 2.9
        International 11.9 4.1 5.4 5.0
        Atlantic 8.7 5.5 3.7 3.6
        Latin America 16.2 3.8 4.6 5.0
        Asia Pacific 8.1 2.4 9.8 6.7
        System 4.9 -0.4 3.3 3.1
      • Total passengers to/from the United States (U.S. and foreign flag carriers) are projected to return to pre-September 11 levels in 2006. The average annual rate of growth between 2005 and 2017 is 5 percent, increasing from 138.7 million to 247.9 million. Average annual percent growth in passengers by region over the 12-year forecast period is: Pacific 7 percent; Latin America 4.9 percent; Atlantic 4.3 percent; and Canadian Transborder 3.7 percent.

        U.S. Mainline & Foreign Flag Air Carriers Enplanements By World Region (Average Annual Percent Growth)
        World Region Calendar Year
        2005 2006 2007 2007-17
        Total U.S./Foreign Flag 3.9 5.8 6.5 4.7
        Atlantic 2.2 5.9 6.9 3.9
        Latin America 4.6 5.2 5.4 4.9
        Asia/Pacific 3.3 7.1 9.7 6.7
        Canadian Transborder 7.7 5.3 4.0 3.5
      • Domestic passenger real yield (adjusted for inflation) is forecast to increase from 11.31 cents in 2005 to 11.35 cents in 2006 (0.4 percent increase). Thereafter, domestic real yield declines at an average rate of 0.9 percent dropping to 10.28 cents in 2017. International real yield is forecast to increase from 10.88 cents in 2005 to 10.98 cents in 2006. Thereafter, international real yield declines at a rate of 1.0 percent annually, falling to 9.83 cents by 2017. Domestic nominal yields do not return to pre-September 11 levels during the forecast period.

        U.S. Mainline Air Carriers Real Yield (Average Annual Percent Growth)
        World Region Fiscal Year
        2005 2006 2007 2007-17
        Domestic -4.8 0.4 -1.0 -0.9
        International 1.1 0.9 -1.1 -1.0
      • U.S. mainline air carrier passenger jet fleet increases from 3,953 aircraft in 2005 to 5,481 aircraft in 2017, an annual increase of 2.8 percent. Projected growth in the fleet during 2006 is 2.2 percent, with most of the increase attributed to the addition of aircraft by low cost carriers.
    • Regionals
      • Regional enplanements are forecast to increase to 155.9 million (up 3 percent) in 2006, and grow 4.4 percent a year thereafter, reaching 250.4 million in 2017.

        U.S. Regional Air Carrier Enplanements (Average Annual Percent Growth)
        World Region Calendar Year
        2005 2006 2007 2007-17
        Domestic 16.5 2.8 5.9 4.2
        International 15.7 9.9 6.4 5.2
      • The regional passenger fleet increases from 2,862 aircraft in 2005 to 3,851 aircraft in 2017, an average annual increase of 2.5 percent.
        • Regional jets increase from 1,758 aircraft in 2005 to 2,819 aircraft in 2017, an annual increase of 4 percent. Most of the increase is attributed to jet aircraft in the 70-seat category.
    • Cargo
      • Total air cargo Revenue Ton Miles (RTMs) (freight/express and mail) increase from 39.2 billion in 2005 to 71.7 billion in 2017 — up an average of 5.2 percent a year; domestic RTMs increase 3.2 percent a year; international RTMs increase 6.3 percent a year.

        U.S. Commercial Air Carriers Air Cargo Revenue Ton Miles (Average Annual Percent)
        World Region Calendar Year
        2005 2006 2007 2007-17
        Domestic -1.6 3.5 3.4 3.1
        International 14.8 6.7 6.6 6.3
        Total 7.5 5.4 5.3 5.1
      • The cargo fleet increases from 1,021 aircraft in 2005 to 1,345 aircraft in 2017, an average increase of 2.3 percent a year.
    • General Aviation
      • The general aviation fleet increases from 214,591 aircraft in 2005 to 252,775 in 2017, growing 1.4 percent a year.
        • Fixed-wing turbojets grow at a rate of 6 percent per year, and piston rotorcraft at a rate of 6.7 percent per year.
      • General aviation hours flown are forecast to increase from 28.3 million in 2005 to 41.1 million in 2017, an average annual growth rate of 3.2 percent a year.
        • The hours flown by the turboprop/turbojet fleet is forecast to increase from 5 million hours in 2005 to 11.9 million in 2017, an average annual growth rate of 7.5 percent. Much of the increase is attributable to the introduction of very light jets (VLJs).
  4. FAA Workload Forecasts
    • Instrument Operations at Combined FAA and Contract Tower Airports
      • Instrument operations are forecast to decline 1.3 percent to 48.3 million in 2006, and then grow at an average annual rate of 2.6 percent for the remainder of the forecast period, reaching 64.4 million in 2017. The average annual growth rate for the entire 12-year forecast period is 2.3 percent. Total instrument operations return to pre-September 11 levels in 2011.
        • Commercial instrument operations decline 0.7 percent in 2006, and grow at a rate of 2.7 percent thereafter, reaching 37.5 million in 2017. Commercial instrument operations are expected to exceed the 2000 level of activity in 2007.
        • General aviation instrument operations decline 2.5 percent in 2006, and grow at a rate of 2.9 percent thereafter, totaling 24.0 million in 2017. General aviation instrument operations are projected to exceed 2000 levels in 2014.
    • Aircraft Handled at Air Route Traffic Control Centers
      • Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) aircraft handled at FAA air route traffic control centers are forecast to decline to 47.2 million (0.6 percent decrease) in 2006 and then grow 3.3 percent a year over the remaining 11-years of the forecast period, reaching 67.7 million in 2017.
        • Commercial IFR aircraft handled decrease from 35.1 million in 2005 to 34.9 million in 2006 (minus 0.5 percent). Thereafter commercial IFR aircraft handled grow at an average annual rate of 3.6 percent, reaching 51.4 million in 2017.
        • General aviation IFR aircraft handled decline 1.4 percent during 2006. Thereafter, general aviation IFR aircraft handled grow at an average annual rate of 3.6 percent, reaching 12.2 million in 2017. General aviation IFR aircraft handled are projected to return to pre-September 11 levels during 2009.

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

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