ATA Projects Full
Flights, Despite 2 Percent Decline In Thanksgiving Air Travel
By Daniel Baxter
November 4, 2011 - The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, advised passengers to expect full flights during the upcoming Thanksgiving travel season, even though about 37,000 fewer people per day are expected to fly during the holiday period compared with last year, as U.S. carriers have reduced capacity to match demand and offset higher costs.
total, ATA expects about 23.2 million air travelers will
fly on U.S. carriers? domestic and international routes
during a 12-day period1 surrounding the holiday ? a 2
percent year-over-year drop ? and down from the 23.6
million people who flew over the Thanksgiving period in
2010. The 2011 forecast anticipates that total volumes
for the period will be 12 percent less than the peak
volumes reached in the same period in 2006.
demand is down from last year and remains well below the 2006
peak, passengers still should expect full flights during the
Thanksgiving holiday travel season as
airlines have begun to reduce capacity and limit the
number of seats available for sale due in part to rising cost
pressures,? said ATA Vice President and Chief Economist John
Heimlich. ?Based on published airline schedules, these cuts are
expected to continue through the winter.?
passenger volumes during this holiday period will range from 1.3
million to 2.3 million. Based on sample data from 2009 and 2010,
the busiest air-travel days for the period are expected to be
Sunday, Nov. 27 and Monday, Nov. 28, followed by Friday, Nov.
18, with load factors exceeding 85 percent.
during the busy holiday travel season, passengers are encouraged
to check their flight status at their air carrier?s website
before leaving for the airport, and to remember to arrive early
to allow plenty of time for check-in and security screening. In
addition, ATA encourages passengers to consult its resource page
for recommended travel tips. It is strongly recommended that all
passengers review the website of the airline on which they are
flying to find airline-specific policies, amenities,
customer-service plans and flight-operation alert notifications.
tally of publicly reporting U.S. passenger airlines shows a net
income of $913 million for the first nine months of 2011. While
operating revenues rose $11.7 billion (12.7 percent), operating
expenses also rose $13.8 billion (16.1 percent), reducing net
income 66 percent from the same period in 2010, and resulting in
a narrow profit margin of 0.9 percent. Notably, fuel expenses
rose 38.1 percent in the period.
?Higher costs have
outpaced higher revenues thus far this year, and the industry?s
razor-thin profit margin means that airlines are keeping less than one
penny in profit for every $1 in revenue,? Heimlich said. ?Aviation tax
increases currently being proposed would exacerbate the problem, further
jeopardizing air-service levels and the ability of the industry to
invest in jobs, new routes and the overall economy.?
The White House has proposed, and the Congressional Super Committee tasked with debt reduction is considering, tripling the security taxes to $7.50 per departure, and adding a $100 departure tax to every passenger and cargo flight. These taxes combined would cost the airline industry and its customers $36 billion over the next 10 years, and as many as 181,000 U.S. jobs next year alone.
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