US celebrates busiest year ever for air travel in 2023

The US aviation trade celebrated its busiest yr ever for air journey in 2023 with 16.3 million flights and the bottom charge of flight cancellations in at the least a decade in response to information launched by the nation’s Division of Transportation (DOT). 

The DOT stated 2023 noticed a cancellation charge for scheduled flights of beneath 1.2%, nearly half of the two.3% seen in 2022 and solely 2016 recording a charge with 1% of 2023.

Notably, the Christmas and New Yr vacation interval marked a a lot smoother time for the trade, with a charge of 0.8%, in comparison with the excessive variety of delays and cancellations seen in 2022, the place cancellations reached 8.2% between 17 December and 1 January.

A bar graph showing flight cancellation rates in the US over the last decade, with highs of 2.4% in 2014 and 2.3% in 2022 and lows of 1.2% in 2016 and 2023
The cancellation charge for 2023 marked a major enchancment on 2022, which noticed one of many highest charges in a decade. Credit score: US Division of Transportation

A profitable December vacation interval continued a robust end to the top of the yr for the trade, which welcomed the busiest day ever at US airports through the Thanksgiving vacation weekend, recording greater than 2.9 million passengers passing by a US airport on 26 November. 

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated the numbers replicate a significant enchancment within the “flexibility and fluidity” of US airspace, he stated: “We’ve been pushing the airways arduous, particularly after what we noticed a few yr and a half in the past, the place even on days the place the climate was high quality, there have been unacceptable ranges of cancellations and disruptions. 

“We pressed them on real looking scheduling, we pressed them on staffing, and we made certain that we took steps that had been underneath our personal accountability, particularly with issues that the FAA may have some management over like bettering the routes that plane are allowed to fly on.” 

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Buttigieg’s claims on the DOT’s efforts to push airways on staffing points will be seen in apply within the division’s information on the causes of flight delays, with the proportion of total delay minutes in 2023 attributed to different/staffing points decreasing by greater than half in comparison with 2022. 

Moreover, the division has additionally been taking motion on the perceived failures of some airways in 2022, with Southwest recently given a $140m fine by the DOT for failing to correctly care for patrons affected by the just about 17,000 flights cancelled by the airline in December 2022 throughout a interval of huge storms. 

Nonetheless, regardless of the successes claimed by the DOT and Secretary Buttigieg, the US’ airspace administration has additionally been criticised by 2023, with some airways claiming they needed to cut back flights at some airports over a shortage of air traffic control staff, with the FAA at present using 10% fewer controllers then it did a decade in the past in 2012.

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