June 10, 2020 / 3:41 PM / 22 days ago

Number of U.S. air passengers fell 96% in April to historic low - government

A woman walks through a mostly empty Reagan National airport as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to keep airline travel at minimal levels and the U.S. economy contracts in the first quarter at its sharpest pace since the Great Recession, in Washington, U.S. April 29, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Files

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. airlines carried 3 million passengers in April, a staggering 96% decline from April 2019 amid the coronavirus pandemic and flight restrictions, the Transportation Department said on Wednesday.

The department said U.S. airlines carried about 2.8 million domestic passengers and 132,000 international passengers. International passengers fell 99% over April 2019 as the U.S. imposed flight restrictions on many international visitors.

Total U.S. airline passengers were the lowest since 1974 when the government began collecting monthly data. By comparison, there were 76.1 million total U.S. airline passengers in April 2019.

The previous low recorded was 14.6 million passengers in February 1975.

U.S. airlines have grounded nearly half of all airplanes, canceled hundreds of thousands of flights and the industry is still burning through billions a dollars a month. But many airlines are adding back flights in July as demand modestly rebounds off the historic lows.

Passenger traffic has recently risen from April lows and fell only 85% in the week ending June 7, while total flights are down 72%.

Airlines for America, an industry trade group, said demand for future air travel remains down 82% and revenue for future flights is down 92%.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese

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