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Airline passenger traffic falls 5%

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Fewer people are leaving on a jet plane: In 2009, U.S. passenger traffic fell by more than 5%, mostly in response to the recession.

The number of domestic and international passengers on U.S. airlines declined 5.3% in 2009 compared to the year before, the Bureau of Statistics reported on Monday.

International airlines experienced a 4.8% decline in the number of passengers on flights to and from the U.S., according to the bureau, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The bureau said the decline was a direct result of the recession, which led to a drop in passenger demand and cutbacks in airline capacity.

Southwest Airlines (LUV, Fortune 500) was the lead domestic carrier for the third year running, the report said, with 101.3 million passengers in 2009. The report also said that American Airlines, owned by AMR Corp. (AA, Fortune 500), continued to carry the most passengers to and from the U.S. for its 20th consecutive year, at 19.6 million in 2009.

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International in Georgia was the busiest airport in America last year, with 42.1 million boardings; John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, N.Y., saw the most international passengers, at 10.7 million. To top of page

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