The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the trade group for U.S. airlines, forecasts that 7 percent fewer passengers (about 150,000 per day) will travel June 1 through August 31, compared to the same period in 2008. Approximately 195 million passengers are expected to fly this summer on U.S. airlines, down from 209 million during the summer months of 2008. ATA is projecting that 7 percent fewer passengers (171 million versus 183 million) will travel domestically, and 6 percent fewer passengers (24 million versus 26 million) will travel internationally.
“The main driver behind the anticipated drop in passengers traveling this summer is the ongoing global recession, which continues to crimp demand,” said ATA President and CEO James C. May. “The weak economy has forced additional aircraft out of the marketplace, so despite fewer travelers, planes will remain near full. Even with fewer flights and the airlines’ heightened level of preparedness for summer travel, we remain concerned that delays may be inevitable due to the combination of an aging air traffic control system and convective weather period.”
In his statement, May said that the current air traffic control system needs to be changed by working on important components of NextGen procedures and technologies that can begin to deliver immediate benefits, citing a congressional study that estimates that delays cost the economy $40 billion annually. "A modernized, satellite-based system could bring that needless expense down significantly," May said. "Congress, working with the Obama administration, should seize this great opportunity by establishing a strong, forward-looking national aviation policy now."