Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, today projected that 45.7 million passengers will travel on U.S. airlines over the 18-day winter holiday travel period from Thurs., Dec. 20, through Sun., Jan. 6. This would be a 5.2 percent increase over the estimated 43.4 million passengers who flew during the comparable timeframe last year.
In order to accommodate the expected average of 2.54 million passengers per day — an increase of 126,000 travelers per day from last year — U.S. airlines will offer an additional 143,000 seats daily across their global networks.
"With airfares at historic lows, travelers are choosing to fly on U.S. airlines in record numbers, especially during the busy holiday season," A4A Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich. "Increased consumer choices and fares that match nearly every budget have enabled a record number of people take to the skies to visit loved ones, conduct business or enjoy a holiday getaway."
Daily passenger volumes are projected to range from 2.1 to 2.9 million. The busiest expected travel days in ranked order are:
- Fri., Dec. 21
- Thurs., Dec. 20
- Wed., Dec. 26
The lightest travel days are expected to be Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, followed by Sat., Jan. 5.
Airlines, TSA continue to work together ahead of busy holiday travel season
On the heels of the busiest Thanksgiving air travel period in history, U.S. airlines continue to work collaboratively with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to ensure the safety and security of the millions of passengers and crew members who are screened at TSA checkpoints each day before continuing on to their departing flights.
"Airlines are investing and work in close coordination with the TSA, including by expanding the use of biometrics and innovative screening technology and encouraging more passengers to enroll in Trusted Traveler Programs," said A4A Vice President of Security and Facilitation Lauren Beyer. "These innovations make us more secure and improve the passenger experience. The security of our passengers and crew is always the industry's top priority, especially during the busy holiday travel season."
Airlines, airports collaborate on airport infrastructure projects without increased taxes on passengers
With historically low airfares and booming demand for air travel, airlines are working in partnership with airports across the country to ensure the customer experience is a positive one, from check-in to touchdown.
U.S. airlines continue to invest heavily in airport infrastructure to modernize and expand facilities. Airline-airport collaboration has already led to $130 billion in capital improvement projects completed, underway or approved at the nation's largest U.S. airports over the past decade alone with more plans in the works. Development is also robust at small and medium airports and cargo facilities across the country.
A4A has long advocated against raising taxes on the flying public, citing the many highly-funded resources available to airports for new projects, including $3.3 billion in revenue from the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) in 2017 alone. Airports also have access to more than $14.5 billion in unrestricted cash reserves and investments and the Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF) has an uncommitted balance of $6 billion, which the Congressional Budget Office projects will grow to a record $8.7 billion by the end of 2020.
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