Deep Discounts Not Enough To Put Passengers On Airplanes
The Air Transport Association of
America (ATA) said Monday that it expects a 4 percent
year-over-year decrease in the number of passengers traveling on
U.S. airlines during the 2009 Thanksgiving holiday season, despite
deep discounting over the past several months.
“It is increasingly apparent that the economic head winds
facing the airlines and their customers are anything but behind us.
The recent announcement that U.S. unemployment surpassed 10 percent
highlights one of the key factors impacting consumer buying
decisions,” said ATA President and CEO James C. May.
As typical with the Thanksgiving holiday travel period, flights
are likely to be quite full, driven this year by the decrease in
available seats and deep discounting, rather than by robust demand.
Carriers have cut back their schedules in response to economic
pressures, with 2009 capacity reductions the deepest since 1942. In
addition, recently released government data show that average
domestic airfares in the second quarter of 2009 fell to their
lowest level since 1998, dropping 13 percent from the second
quarter of 2008 – the largest year-to-year decline on
Based on sample data from the Thanksgiving 2008 period, the four
busiest travel days surrounding Thanksgiving Day this year are
expected to be Monday, Nov. 30, Sunday, Nov. 29, Friday, Nov. 20
and Wednesday, Nov. 25, respectively.
ATA is expecting the federal government once again to open up
Special Activity Airspace to help ease congestion.
May encouraged passengers to pack light, to check their flight
status before leaving for the airport, and to remember to arrive
early. “During this busy travel period especially, passengers
should plan ahead and provide plenty of time for airport check-in
and security screening,” said May.