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SuseJ772
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Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:25 pm

So I was putting the finishing touches on my Historical N-Number & Flight Information search tool, and after loading all the BTS data dating back to 1987, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what it showed.

I consider there to be three-eras of Commercial Aviation since 1987.

  • Pre-9/11
  • Post-9/11, but pre-Merger Era
  • Merger Era

Particularly in the Merger Era we really start to see Revenue Management take hold in a way that truly produces very intelligent business practices. It was no longer a "market share for the sake of market share" mentality that drove the pre-9/11 era. You clearly see the sophistication in the using the CapEx in its most effective manner.

Below is the data of flights per day broken down by year/month. I find a few things interesting:

  • May 1989 was the least amount of flights in any month
  • This last July (2019) was the most amount of flight in any month
  • Summer almost unanimously was the busiest months in all eras, but it shifted from August to June/July (I wonder if that has to do with school starting earlier so vacations are more June/July instead of July/August
  • Pre-9/11 and Pre-Merger the slowest months were very erratic, but post-Merger it solidifies in January. I find this most fascinating because I am sure that was not by accident and all the new revenue management tools figured out that this was the time to a) take out flights and b) do heavy maintenance.

I found all of this fascinating. Figured you might too.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

Image


PS
  • Sorry for the low quality of the image. I was trying to think of the best way to display this information, and this was the best I could come up with.
  • If you aren't familiar with BTS data, it isn't every commercial flight in the US, but the top 10 airlines have to report it each month. Of course over 30 years the "top 10 list" changes.
  • US Data Only
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kitplane01
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:27 pm

Cool. Thanks.
 
phatfarmlines
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:29 pm

SuseJ772 wrote:
I consider there to be three-eras of Commercial Aviation since 1987.

  • Pre-9/11
  • Post-9/11, but pre-Merger Era
  • Merger Era


I would add pre-deregulation to that list.

EDIT: Didn't realize you were looking at the period after 1987. Disregard.
 
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SuseJ772
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:37 pm

phatfarmlines wrote:
SuseJ772 wrote:
I consider there to be three-eras of Commercial Aviation since 1987.

  • Pre-9/11
  • Post-9/11, but pre-Merger Era
  • Merger Era


I would add pre-deregulation to that list.

EDIT: Didn't realize you were looking at the period after 1987. Disregard.

Yeah, that would have been super fascinating to look at too. But sadly, the BTS data only goes back to October of 1987 (and even then, it doesn't have all the data points until the early 90s)
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hivue
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Tue Jan 21, 2020 1:11 am

"Grand Total" looks more like "Mean."
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durangomac
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Tue Jan 21, 2020 1:55 am

Interesting data for sure. One point that needs to be adjusted is that the Feb months on leap years appears not to be taking into account the month is 29 days, I think that is why your are seeing a few of the Feb months with highest flight count for the year. I would curious if have looked at day of week by month, that would be interesting to see what happens.
 
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PacoMartin
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Tue Jan 21, 2020 2:05 am

durangomac wrote:
Interesting data for sure. One point that needs to be adjusted is that the Feb months on leap years appears not to be taking into account the month is 29 days,


Nice catch, but February in 2012 and 2016 don't seem out of line.
 
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Florianopolis
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Tue Jan 21, 2020 2:06 am

Is this of the largest 10 airlines at the time of the data?

In other words, if Delta and Northwest merged, that's the same number of flights (ish), and then the next month it's all their flights PLUS another new tenth airline?
 
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SuseJ772
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Tue Jan 21, 2020 3:08 am

hivue wrote:
"Grand Total" looks more like "Mean."

It is. You're right. There was an initial table above it and I copy and pasted it into the one that divided it by number of days. Forgot to change that description.
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SuseJ772
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Tue Jan 21, 2020 3:21 am

PacoMartin wrote:
durangomac wrote:
Interesting data for sure. One point that needs to be adjusted is that the Feb months on leap years appears not to be taking into account the month is 29 days,


Nice catch, but February in 2012 and 2016 don't seem out of line.


Good catch. Forgot about Leap Year. I have updated it here

SIDE NOTE: It also may update at some point in the OP - it hasn't so far, which tells me that even though airliners.net is using my servers hosting, it somehow is caching the image. If anyone is reading this afterwards and thinks durangomac and PacoMartin are mistaken because the OP has it corrected, they were originally correct.

Image
Last edited by SuseJ772 on Tue Jan 21, 2020 3:41 am, edited 2 times in total.
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SuseJ772
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Tue Jan 21, 2020 3:23 am

Florianopolis wrote:
Is this of the largest 10 airlines at the time of the data?

In other words, if Delta and Northwest merged, that's the same number of flights (ish), and then the next month it's all their flights PLUS another new tenth airline?


That is my understanding of it. DOT / BTS is not super clear on that one. But your understanding is my understanding, and it is also why the regionals weren't apart of it earlier in the dataset but more recently they are (at least I know I have seen OO in there).
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jmc1975
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:16 am

If BTS data goes back to 1987, would I be able to track down an N-number that I flew on in 1989? I’ve been wondering how I could get ahold of such data...I only thought it went back to 1995.
.......
 
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TWA772LR
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Tue Jan 21, 2020 5:10 am

Nice work!

It's interesting to see the shift from August to July as the busiest travel month. Besides being summer vacation, is there an explanation for that? Is school starting earlier across the country?
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SuseJ772
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Tue Jan 21, 2020 12:38 pm

jmc1975 wrote:
If BTS data goes back to 1987, would I be able to track down an N-number that I flew on in 1989? I’ve been wondering how I could get ahold of such data...I only thought it went back to 1995.


The data does go back to 1987 for some of the data points (Gate to Gate times, scheduled departure, actual departure, scheduled arrival, actual arrival), but sadly the N-Numbers aren't in the dataset until January of 1995. That and the fact international flights aren't in the dataset are the two big disappointments with the datasets.
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lowfareair
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Tue Jan 21, 2020 12:59 pm

Florianopolis wrote:
Is this of the largest 10 airlines at the time of the data?

In other words, if Delta and Northwest merged, that's the same number of flights (ish), and then the next month it's all their flights PLUS another new tenth airline?


That's correct. So in 1987 when this data started, the top 10 could include (I honestly don't know the exact order):

  • United
  • American
  • Delta
  • US Air
  • Northwest
  • Continental
  • TWA
  • Eastern
  • Pan Am
  • Piedmont

And that still leaves out Alaska, PSA, Southwest, America West, Braniff II, Morris Air, all of the regionals, etc.
 
Woofbite
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Tue Jan 21, 2020 3:21 pm

I would have expected a huge drop after 9/11. Were the no-fly days excluded?
 
MIflyer12
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Tue Jan 21, 2020 3:32 pm

TWA772LR wrote:
Nice work!

It's interesting to see the shift from August to July as the busiest travel month. Besides being summer vacation, is there an explanation for that? Is school starting earlier across the country?


The 1960s era, 'School starts after Labor Day' idea isn't as prevalent as it used to be. If nothing else, there's a bigger fraction of school population in the South and West.
 
smokeybandit
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:45 pm

What happened in the 2013/2014 time frame to cause such a drop? Then an immediate skyrocket from December 2017 into January 2018.
 
durangomac
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Tue Jan 21, 2020 10:15 pm

lowfareair wrote:
Florianopolis wrote:
Is this of the largest 10 airlines at the time of the data?

In other words, if Delta and Northwest merged, that's the same number of flights (ish), and then the next month it's all their flights PLUS another new tenth airline?


That's correct. So in 1987 when this data started, the top 10 could include (I honestly don't know the exact order):

  • United
  • American
  • Delta
  • US Air
  • Northwest
  • Continental
  • TWA
  • Eastern
  • Pan Am
  • Piedmont

And that still leaves out Alaska, PSA, Southwest, America West, Braniff II, Morris Air, all of the regionals, etc.



It's not the top 10 airlines, it's the airlines that have 10% or more of the passenger traffic until a couple years ago when they changed it to 5% and last year they made all majors that have regional airlines to file for airlines that are smaller that don't have 5%.
 
durangomac
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Tue Jan 21, 2020 10:18 pm

smokeybandit wrote:
What happened in the 2013/2014 time frame to cause such a drop? Then an immediate skyrocket from December 2017 into January 2018.


This is when majors with regional partners that had less than 5% of total passenger started to have to report for all the small regional partners data.
 
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DeltaMD90
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Wed Apr 01, 2020 4:45 pm

[quote="SuseJ772"][/quote]
Not to be that guy and revive a dead thread, but you should really do this next year and see how the coronavirus affects everything... If you are dividing it into eras, we probably entered a new one
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Wed Apr 01, 2020 5:00 pm

Here’s the FAA report for 2018 on system activity. At another FAA document, they claim handling 44,000 flights of all types per day.

https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/by_the_ ... s_2019.pdf
 
Kilopond
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Re: Interesting Data: US Flights per Day per Month Dating Back to 1987

Wed Apr 01, 2020 6:32 pm

SuseJ772 wrote:
[...]US Data Only[/list]


Just to put it into some kind of a blurry perspective: Eurocontrol reported an average of 30,168 daily flights in 2019. An all-time record had been set on Friday, 28 June 2019, with 37,228 flights.

https://www.eurocontrol.int/news/new-tr ... ts-one-day

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