Four U.S. air passenger carriers (American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines) make up two-thirds of the domestic market (65.2% of domestic paid passenger-miles), according to a World Trade Organization (WTO) report.
These companies are also among the six largest commercial airlines in the world.
In February 2022, two low-cost airlines, Spirit and Frontier, announced their intention to merge to create the fifth largest U.S. carrier.
Earlier, in September 2021, the Department of Justice, along with the Attorneys General of six states and the District of Columbia, announced the filing of a civil antitrust lawsuit against several agreements between American Airlines and Jet Blue to establish the so-called Northeast Alliance.
Since 2020, the airline industry has been severely affected by travel restrictions and quarantine requirements resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to information provided by 24 US airlines, the second quarter of 2021 is the first quarter to post a net profit since the end of 2019; net income after tax in the second quarter of 2021 was USD 1 billion, while cumulative losses since the start of the pandemic amounted to USD 38.1 billion.
Air passenger carriers
The sector is experiencing a recovery, although air travel volumes have not yet recovered to the levels recorded in 2019.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, under the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), is in charge of a wide range of policy and regulatory activities related to domestic and international aviation.
DOT and the Office of Aviation Negotiations, under the Department of State, conduct, in close coordination with USDOC, bilateral and multilateral negotiations of international air transport agreements aimed at liberalizing commercial aviation markets.
In 2019, the U.S. civil aviation sector employed 6.5 million people, contributed $779 billion annually to the U.S. economy, and accounted for 4.2% of GDP.
In fiscal 2019, before travel restrictions were imposed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the FAA guided 27.7 million flights each year, of which 16.4 million were flights subject to instrument flight rules (radar-assisted) and 11.3 were flights subject to visual flight rules (low-altitude fly-by-wire aircraft).
It also manages 520 control towers and 21 air traffic control centers, with more than 14,000 air traffic controllers.