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June 30, 2011


Change in Methodology Creates New Baseline

The U.S. Department of Commerce today released revised U.S. citizen outbound non-stop air passenger traffic data for 2010. As cited in the November 15, 2010 OTTI TINews(1) release, the source used for reporting U.S. International Air Travel Statistics changed in July 2010 from the paper-based DHS I-92 form to the paperless Advance Passenger Information System (APIS). The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS)/Customs and Border Protection and Commerce (DOC)/International Trade Administration have jointly worked on the transition to APIS. In addition, DOC has totally re-engineered its U.S. International Air Travel Statistics reporting system.

An unexpected, yet reasonable result of the change in methodology to APIS is a one-time net downsizing of U.S. citizen outbound traffic. While, U.S. non-stop air travel to the Caribbean and Mexico appeared to ‘increase’ in 2010, since under the I-92 legacy system many of the short haul flights were not accounted for, the remaining overseas regions ‘decreased’ due to a more accurate measurement of outbound traffic. Also, the APIS is sourced to flight check-in data which captures passenger citizenship. Previously, the I-92 paper-based system imputed the U.S. traveler numbers only after accounting for non-citizen departure records (I-94), also a paper document. Gaps in that process generally contributed to an overstatement in the U.S. traveler count.

Highlights: 2010 U.S. Citizen Air Traffic to Mexico, Canada and Overseas Regions
Cautionary Note: Comparing 2010 outbound data to 2009 data is an apples to oranges comparison based on the changes in methodology explained above.  Percent changes are provided below to only provide a sense of magnitude.

  • U.S. outbound air passengers totaled 34.5 million in 2010, down 11 percent.
  • Mexico was up eight percent.
  • Canada increased six percent (source data is from Stats Canada).
  • Overseas markets were down 16 percent.
  • The Caribbean was up seven percent.
  • Europe was down 16 percent.
  • Asia was down 27 percent.
  • South America was down 37 percent.
  • Central America was down 21 percent.
  • The Middle East was down five percent.
  • Oceania was down 37 percent.
  • Africa was down 13 percent.

To view OTTI 2010 U.S. outbound data tables that provide monthly estimates of U.S. air travel abroad by world region and the rate of change each month and year-to-date, please visit: <https://travel.trade.gov/view/m-2010-O-001/index.html>.

Please note that the excel spreadsheet in the above link has two tabs. The first tab includes all monthly U.S. international outbound air travel data for 2010 as compiled from the APIS. The second tab only contains data for the first six months of 2010, as previously posted, from the legacy I-92 data system.

Currently, OTTI is processing January through May 2011 APIS data, and when released, these data will be directly comparable to the revised monthly 2010 outbound data released today.

Industry & Analysis’ Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI) collects, analyzes and disseminates international travel and tourism statistics for the U.S. Travel and Tourism Statistical System. For more detailed information on the U.S. international travel abroad research program, please visit: <http://tinet.ita.doc.gov/research/programs/i92/index.html>.

U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI)
1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Room 1003
Washington, D.C. 20230
Phone: (202) 482-0140; Fax: (202) 482-2887
Website: <www.tinet.ita.doc.gov>
Email: otti@trade.gov

(1) November 15, 2010 OTTI TINews release on U.S. International Air Travel Statistics System Re-Engineered: Source Document DHS I-92 is Now ‘Paperless’ <https://travel.trade.gov/tinews/archive/tinews2010/20101115.html>.

Throughout this report, percent changes posted for U.S. air travelers for 2010 were calculated by comparing 2010 data (APIS) to data in 2009 (legacy I-92).