North American aviation industry by numbers - the latest trends and data

Routesonline analyses the North American aviation industry, taking a quarterly look at the top routes served and revealing the airlines that are dominating the market. We also rank the top ten airports by available departure seats.

Routesonline analyses the North American aviation industry, taking a monthly look at the top routes served and revealing the airlines that are dominating the market. We also rank the top ten airports by available departure seat capacity.

Q3 2018 - All data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser

Top North American airline routes

Los Angeles (LAX) - San Francisco (SFO) had the largest number of two-way seats during the third quarter of 2018 at 1,269,442, as capacity nudged up by 0.7 percent year on year. The route is operated by five carriers (Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines), with United commanding the largest share of the market by capacity (31.6 percent).

Vancouver (YVR) to Calgary (YYC) recorded the largest year-on-year rise in available seat capacity in the top ten, growing by 20.2 percent to be ranked tenth (up from 21st during Q3 2017). Flair Airlines began operating the route in June 2018, which has prompted WestJet and Air Canada to increase frequencies.

Top five routes by capacity (Q3 2018 vs Q3 2017):

Top North American airlines

All airlines in the top ten increased year-on-year seat capacity during Q3 2018, with Alaska Airlines recording the largest percentage rise. The growth for Alaska Airlines largely stems from the integration of Virgin America, which the carrier bought in December 2016. Low-cost carriers Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines also enjoyed double-digit percentage rises, growing capacity by 15.5 percent and 17.9 percent respectively. 

Total number of available seats by airline (Q3 2018 vs Q3 2017): 

Top North American airports

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson added more than 500,000 departure seats in Q3 2018, compared with the same quarter last year. The growth of 3.3 percent outpaced that of the other airports featuring in the top five. Los Angeles International increased its total number of departure seats by 2.5 percent, Chicago O'Hare by 2.8 percent, Dallas/Fort Worth by 2.8 percent, and New York J F Kennedy by 1.7 percent. Elsewhere in the top ten, Seattle-Tacoma recorded impressive growth of 7.7 percent after adding 591,035 departure seats. 

Top five airports by total departure seats: 


The full North American aviation industry data

Top ten North American routes by total available capacity (Q3 2018):

Rank Route

Total two-way

capacity (Q3 2018)

Total two-way

capacity (Q3 2017)

Change (%)
1 LAX-SFO 1269442 1260083 0.7%
2 YVR-YYZ 1094057 1154478 -5.2%
3 JFK-LAX 1017747 1061177 -4.1%
4 LGA-ORD 1013101 1023543 -1.0%
5 JFK-LHR 1001810 945043 6.0%
6 LAX-SEA 792402 885726 -10.5%
7 LAX-ORD 844070 869043 -2.9%
8 LAS-LAX 947163 865062 9.5%
9 YUL-YYZ 771819 825549 -6.5%
10 HNL-OGG 655783 815609 -19.6%

Top North American airlines by total available departure seats (Q3 2018):

Rank Airline

Total available departure seats (Q3 2018)

Total available departure seats (Q3 2017) Change (%)
1 American Airlines (AA) 66501746 65343623 1.8%
2 Delta Air Lines (DL) 62040152 59998286 3.4%
3 Southwest Airlines (WN) 52939458 51873349 2.1%
4 United Airlines (UA) 51218771 48484581 5.6%
5 Air Canada (AC) 18127082 17180709 5.5%
6 Alaska Airlines (AS) 15093008 11777750 28.1%
7 JetBlue Airways (B6) 13151050 12693586 3.6%
8 Spirit Airlines (NK) 9236086 7999996 15.5%
9 Westjet (WS) 8297333 7814864 6.2%
10 Frontier Airlines (F9) 6164960 5227200 17.9%

Top North American airports by total available departure seats (Q3 2018):

Rank Airport Total available departure seats (Q3 2018) Total available departure seats (Q3 2017) Change (%)
1 Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson  15631427 16148350 3.3%
2 Los Angeles International  13409074 13749125 2.5%
3 Chicago O'Hare  12965370 13324019 2.8%
4 Dallas/Fort Worth  10399187 10685582 2.8%
5 New York JFK 10062003 10234098 1.7%
6 Denver  9466220 9822892 3.8%
7 San Francisco 9367625 9378360 0.1%
8 Toronto Lester B Pearson  7966368 8304175 4.2%
9 Seattle-Tacoma  7645342 8236377 7.7%
10 Las Vegas McCarran  7238420 7435834 2.7%