The economy is still slow and the financial crisis is still at the forefront of most professionals' concerns, no matter what the industry, yet various air carriers are reporting that advance bookings of seats on planes forecast full, if not fuller, passenger demand than late fall and the winter holidays of last year, the Associated Press reports. The full bookings are mostly related to the fact that several airlines have removed a significant portion of available seats in order to counteract escalating fuel prices. Hence, travelers who have yet not booked flights for the holidays will likley find it more difficult and expensive.
Arne Haak, chief financial officer of discount AirTran Airways, told the AP that his company has not yet seen any decline in passenger bookings for the upcoming holidays. Ed Bastian, Delta Air Lines' chief financial officer, added that the carrier's domestic advance bookings for the holidays are matching the company's expectations and have higher occupancy rates on a year-over-year basis. Both CFOs cited the capacity cuts as a primary reason for the increase in bookings.
Another reason air carriers' occupancy rates are increasing, according to AP sources, remains the push by resorts and destinations to offer new deals and the efforts of passengers to find them. Spokespeople for the airlines admitted they are not sure how long the surge in demand will last, particularly with an imminent recession causing travelers to cut back plans and costs in 2009.