The continued recession and volatile energy prices will further reduce air service levels for the remainder of 2009, according to new estimates by the Air Transport Association of America (ATA). The industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, ATA forecasts that 16 million passengers will travel globally on U.S. airlines during the eight-day 2009 Labor Day holiday period, spanning Wednesday, September 2 through Wednesday, September 9. The ATA says this is a decline of approximately 3.5 percent from the 17 million passengers estimated to have traveled on U.S. airlines during the same period last year.
The projected decline consists of a 3.5 percent drop in domestic travel and a 3 percent drop in international travel despite system-wide, year-over-year average-fare declines in each of the first six months of this year.
“The deep global recession and unnaturally high and volatile energy prices are the primary drivers of the expected reduction in passenger volumes," said ATA President and CEO James C. May. "Passengers should expect airports to be less crowded, but planes will be at or near capacity during this Labor Day holiday period. Economic uncertainty and persistently high energy prices for consumers and businesses continue to impact demand for air travel. Now is a great time to fly. Low fares are making travel to all corners of the world very affordable.”
Looking ahead through the end of 2009, the ATA reports that the economic climate’s toll on air service is evident in the schedule. The most current schedule filings for October through December, for example, show 22 percent fewer domestic departures than in the same period of 2000— a reduction of approximately 6,660 flights per day. Also, over the past two years, all 67 airports defined by the Federal Aviation Administration as large or medium hubs show a reduction in the number of scheduled flights.
The ATA encourages passengers to keep in mind the following:
* Passengers should be aware that they will be asked to provide their date of birth and gender when making a reservation, as part of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Secure Flight program. Travelers should expect no change in the travel experience, however, as a result of this security initiative.
* All passengers are strongly encouraged to review the website of the airline on which they are flying for respective policies, amenities, customer service plans and flight-operation alert notifications.
* During this travel period especially, passengers are reminded to plan ahead and provide plenty of time for airport check-in and security screening. Remember that 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.