US airlines will serve 45 million customers during holiday travel season

WASHINGTON, DC - Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading US airlines, today released its 2014-2015 Winter Holiday Air Travel Forecast, projecting 45 million custome

US airlines will serve 45 million customers during holiday travel season

WASHINGTON, DC – Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading US airlines, today released its 2014-2015 Winter Holiday Air Travel Forecast, projecting 45 million customers will fly on US airlines during the 19-day period from Wednesday, Dec. 17 through Sunday, Jan. 4, an increase of approximately 2 percent or 47,000 daily travelers. Last year, 44 million customers were estimated to have traveled by air.

To accommodate the increased demand for air travel, airlines are adding seats to the market, principally through the use of larger aircraft. Planes are projected to be 80 percent to 90 percent full over the winter holiday period, with the busiest travel day expected to be Friday, Dec. 19. The lightest travel days are expected to be Wednesday, Dec. 24; Thursday, Dec. 25; Wednesday, Dec. 31; and Thursday, Jan. 1. Passenger volumes are expected to range from 2 million to 2.5 million during the 19-day period, an increase of approximately 10 percent over the average day in 2014.

“We expect 45 million customers will travel onboard U.S. airlines over the holiday period, and airlines are adding seats to the marketplace to accommodate the increase in demand,” said John Heimlich, Vice President and Chief Economist for Airlines for America. “As more customers take to the skies this holiday season, travelers will continue to benefit from the significant investments U.S. airlines are making – to the tune of more than $1 billion per month – into amenities at the airport and in the skies that further enhance the travel experience.”

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Sharon Pinkerton, A4A Senior Vice President, Legislative and Regulatory Policy, highlighted the need for transformational change in the 2015 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reform bill, while cautioning against needlessly increasing the cost of travel with an increase in the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) tax. Pinkerton noted that from 2000 to 2013, airport revenues grew by nearly 64 percent, exceeding inflation (by contrast, the consumer price index rose 35 percent during this period), while passenger and cargo airline departures declined 13 percent.

“Airlines continue to invest heavily in airport infrastructure and there is not a single project that is not being realized through existing funding resources,” said Pinkerton. “Since 2008, the 29 largest airports alone have started or completed over $52 billion of capital projects, with significant airline support. We believe airports have adequate resources to fund necessary projects instead of raising taxes on airline customers, who contribute to airport revenues with every ticket they buy.”

Pinkerton noted that airports should continue to fund the majority of projects through bonds due to their investment grade credit. There are numerous other avenues available to fund projects including the Airport Improvement Program and an unobligated balance in the Aviation Trust Fund at its highest levels since 2001.

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