The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) published airport-level passenger throughput up to Dec. 31, 2022. Let’s check the US air traffic status in the last month of 2022. Please refer to this article about how we choose specific airports as representatives for US domestic, international, leisure, and business markets.
U.S. Overall Air Traffic Status
As shown in Figure 1, the overall US air traffic increased in the first half of December but dropped in the second half. That’s because the bad weather before the 2022 Christmas forced airlines to cancel more than 12,000 flights. The 2022 curve touched the 2019 curve again in December. But the abnormal winter storms pushed the traffic down. However, we expect the 2023 curve to be on par with the 2019 curve, although it might be below the 2020 curve before March.
Figure 1: US Overall Air Traffic Trend
Domestic Air Traffic Indicator
Figure 2 is the U.S. domestic air traffic indicator. The U.S. domestic air traffic had good growth in the first half of December 2022 and then fell down due to the inclement weather. We expect domestic traffic to be above the pre-pandemic level in the first quarter of 2023.
Figure 2: US Domestic Air Traffic Indicator
International Air Traffic Indicator
Figure 3 is an indicator of US international traffic. The 2022 curve followed a similar pattern as 2019. It will take longer for US international traffic to reach the pre-pandemic level than domestic traffic.
Figure 3: US International Air Traffic Indicator
Leisure Air Traffic Indicator
Bad weather has a more negative impact on leisure travel. As shown in Figure 4, the 2022 curve fell below the 2019 curve at the end of December. However, the perspective of leisure travel in 2023 is still very good.
Figure 4: US Leisure Air Traffic Indicator
Business Air Traffic Indicator
As for the business traffic, Figure 5 shows that the 2022 curve was still between the 2019 and 2021 levels in December 2022. The traffic level might be close to the pre-pandemic level in the first quarter of 2023.
Figure 5: US Business Air Traffic Indicator
To summarize, US air traffic in December was slowed down by the bad weather during Christmas week. But the outlook in 2023 is still positive.