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ATA Estimates Modest Growth in Summer Passengers

May 12, 2010 By: George Dooley

About 2.2 million passengers per day will travel globally on U.S. airlines between June 1 and August 31, the Air Transport Association (ATA) estimates in its annual summer air travel forecast. This estimate of approximately 202 million passengers is roughly 1 percent higher than in the same period in 2009. The ATA also warned of increased fuel costs and delays.

“We anticipate that the summer 2010 air travel season will be very modestly ahead of last year,” said ATA President and CEO James May. “We would like to see even more growth, but this slight uptick in the number of air travelers is a positive sign for an economy and an industry in recovery.”

ATA is projecting that approximately 176 million passengers will travel domestically during this summer travel period (on par with 2009 domestic levels), and approximately 26 million passengers will travel internationally (a 7 percent increase).

“One particular challenge that remains this summer is high jet fuel prices,” said May. “We anticipate that jet fuel prices will be approximately 20 percent higher than last summer’s prices. This means that even as demand continues to gradually improve for air travel, we face rising fuel prices once again, which could hamper recovery efforts.”

For every one-penny increase in the cost of jet fuel, the industry incurs an additional $170 million to $190 million in annual operating expenses. In 2009, U.S. passenger and cargo airlines spent $32.3 billion on fuel.

“Passengers should keep in mind that the chokepoints in the air traffic system – especially in the New York area – remain congested, despite capacity cuts necessitated by a weak economy and volatile fuel prices,” said May. “This means that any disruption to the system, such as convective weather and air traffic control delays, will be amplified. Carriers remain duly concerned with delays and are planning accordingly. Passengers should be aware of this as well, and be prepared for delays, regardless of where in the system they are traveling.”

ATA encourages passengers to consult its resource page for recommended travel tips. In particular, passengers are advised to keep in mind the following:

*    It is strongly recommended that all passengers review the Web site of the airline on which they are flying for respective policies, amenities, customer-service plans and flight-operation alert notifications.
*    All ATA member airlines are fully compliant with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Secure Flight Program, which will mean that passengers can expect fewer security hassles at the airport.
*    Before departing to the airport, be sure to check the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airport delay map.
*    Remember that the TSA requires that air travelers follow its 3-1-1 Rule for liquids, gels and aerosols in carry-on bags when passing through security checkpoints.




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