San Francisco beats the average as fastest growing major US domestic airport this year

San Francisco International Airport has exceeded the average rate of capacity growth for the US domestic aviation sector over the first seven months of the year. It was the only airport in the USA top ten to see year-on-year domestic capacity grow by more than +4.5% versus the same period in 2017, albeit all ten airports have seen seat growth in the market during the 2018 period.


Summary:

  • San Francisco International was fastest growing major (top ten) USA domestic airport during the first seven months of 2018 with seats up +5.1% versus 2017;
  • The USA domestic aviation system rose +4.5% during the period with only five of the top 50 airports reporting year-on-year capacity declines versus 2017;
  • The world’s largest airport, Atlanta-Hartsfield International, continues to grow (+1.8%), but its closest rivals are growing at a faster rate;
  • Austin-Bergstrom International and Philadelphia International were the largest risers within the top 50; Honolulu International Airport was the largest faller,

While over-shadowed in size by its California rival, Los Angeles International, San Francisco International increased its domestic capacity +5.1% during the first seven months of the year, according to The Blue Swan Daily analysis of OAG schedule data. The growth has seen it rise ahead of Charlotte Douglas International and Phoenix Sky Harbor International to be the country’s seventh largest domestic airport.

The world’s largest airport, Atlanta-Hartsfield International, continues to grow (+1.8%), but its closest rivals are growing at a faster rate with Chicago O’Hare International up +3.7% and Los Angeles International up+3.2% year-on-year during the analysis period. In fact Minneapolis St Paul International was the only airport within the domestic top 25 to see a decline in capacity (-0.8%).

Looking at the wider top 25 and above average levels of domestic growth were recorded by Seattle-Tacoma International (+8.0%), Orlando International (+5.2%), Boston Logan International (+9.1%), Newark Liberty International (+7.0%), Houston George Bush Intercontinental (+5.3%), Philadelphia International (+8.1%), Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall (+4.7%), Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International (+6.1%), Salt Lake City (+4.5%) and San Diego International (+9.0%).

The growth at Seattle-Tacoma International could see it break into the domestic top ten before the end of the year, rising from its current eleventh position. Meanwhile, San Diego International’s near double-digit rise has seen it reinforce its position within the Top 25, while Chicago Midway International, currently in 25th position, could slip down as the second largest domestic airport to witness a capacity decline (-0.2%) during the analysis period.

Expanding the analysis to cover USA’s top 50 domestic airports by capacity and it is SJC that has seen the largest rise in year-on-year domestic seats during the first seven months of 2018, up +15.2%. This growth just exceeded the +15.1% figure recorded by Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International, while Austin-Bergstrom International (+14.7%), Raleigh–Durham International (+10.3%), Nashville International (+10.2%) and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International (+10.0%) all recorded double-digit rises.

Austin-Bergstrom International and Philadelphia International were the largest risers within the top 50, each climbing up three positions versus the same period last year, while Daniel K Inouye International Airport, also known as Honolulu International Airport, was the largest faller, down four places from 30th to 34th following a -4.7% decline.

CHART – The USA domestic aviation system rose +4.5% year-on-year during the first seven months of 2018 with only one of the top 25 and just five of the nation’s top 50 airports seeing a decline in domestic capacitySource: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG