The Finger Points To Delays
Predictions of flat passenger traffic during the holidays is a
sign delays might be the airline industry’s gremlin. The Air
Transport Association paints a rather meek forecast for an industry
that also predicts airline growth will grow 2-3 percent in 2008, as
it nears the end of a year that was marred by increased fuel costs,
and record delays.
Domestic airlines are expected carry 47.2 million passengers
globally during the three weeks that started Thursday and end Jan.
2, compared to 47 million last year and 46.8 million in 2005,
according to ATA. Analysts said the flat forecast shows demand has
eased a bit, prompting airlines to cut flight frequencies.
ATA, in releasing the forecast, had a different perspective,
according to the Associated Press.
"Despite signs of slowing in the economy and sky-high energy
prices, we expect to see another strong season of holiday air
travel," ATA President and Chief Executive James May said.
The airline trade organization expects the four busiest days
during the winter travel period to be January 2, December 21,
December 27, and December 26 -- each averaging more than 2.5
million passengers. The ATA expects Christmas and Christmas Eve
will the least busy, each with an average of 1.9 million
The forecast shows demand on the days furthest from the actual
holidays has declined, and that airlines cut their capacity to
match that, said airline consultant Robert Mann.
Airlines added staff and smartened up self-help areas to cut
individual customer service times. During Thanksgiving, airlines
added staff, extra self-service kiosks and other enhancements to
terminal and gate areas. When delays happened, carriers let
customers know via wireless devices up to 24 hours in advance.
ATA, as well as the Transportation Security Agency, warn of
longer lines at security check-ins due to holidays presents and
purchases carried on board flights.
The outlook for passenger service came as a large winter storm
settled in across the Northeast, and airlines urged travelers to
expect delays and reschedule trips involving the high-traffic
As ANN reported last week, in
something of a holiday gift Delta, JetBlue, and Continental said
they'd allow customers to change affected flights without penalty,
although the storms fall clearly under the so-called "Act of God"
category airlines love to cite as reason to deny compensation to