Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the US airlines, today projected that 51 million passengers are expected to fly globally on US airlines over the 21-day winter holiday travel period from Friday, Dec. 15 through Thursday, Jan. 4, approximately a 3.5 percent increase over the 49.3 million estimated to have flown last year, the company said.
Airlines will offer 91,000 additional seats per day across their networks to accommodate the 80,000 additional daily passengers expected to travel over the holidays, by adding flights and utilizing larger planes. US airlines have boosted staffing levels for 47 consecutive months and are expected to do so throughout the holiday period to accommodate the millions of holiday travelers. A4A attributes the growth in demand to an improving economy and sub-inflation airfares.
“With affordable fares and expanded route options, flying to see family, friends and loved ones this holiday season is more accessible than ever before,” said A4A Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich. “Intense competition within the airline industry is enabling passengers to choose the flights that most closely match their preferences and budgets.”
Heimlich noted that 88 percent of passengers traveling in US domestic markets in 2016 could choose among carriers other than American, Delta and United (and their merged predecessors), up sharply from just 65 percent in 2000. And recently released government data shows that airline investments in equipment, systems and staffing continue to pay off for travelers, who are benefitting from better service when they take to the skies.
A4A expects the busiest travel days of the 21-day period to be Thursday, Dec. 21, Friday, Dec. 22 and Tuesday, Dec. 26, while the lightest travel days are expected to be Saturday, Dec. 16, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year´s Eve. Passenger volumes are expected to vary widely, ranging from just below 2 million on the lightest days to more than 2.7 million on the busiest. In 2016, US airlines carried an average of 2.25 million passengers per day.
Annually, commercial aviation helps drive USD 1.5 trillion in US economic activity and more than 10 million US jobs. Airlines for America (A4A) vigorously advocates on behalf of the American airline industry as a model of safety, customer service and environmental responsibility and as the indispensable network that drives our nation´s economy and global competitiveness.
America needs a cohesive National Airline Policy that will support the integral role the nation´s airlines play in connecting people and goods globally, spur the nation´s economic growth and create more high-paying jobs. A4A works collaboratively with the airlines, labor groups, Congress and the Administration to improve air travel for everyone.