Calls Expected Dropoff 'Marginal'
The Air Transport
Association of America (ATA), the industry trade organization for
the leading US airlines, joined by Airports Council
International-North America (ACI-NA), released its summer forecast
and steps that passengers can take to help ensure a more enjoyable
ATA forecasts that slightly fewer passengers will travel June 1
through August 31 compared to the same period last year.
Approximately 211.5 million passengers are expected to fly this
summer, down approximately 1 percent from the 214.2 million
passengers who traveled during the summer months of 2007.
"For a variety of reasons, slightly fewer people will fly this
summer and planes will be approaching 85 percent full," said ATA
President and CEO James C. May. "While New York remains a
chokepoint, airlines, airports and government are doing all they
can to avoid lengthy delays when possible and to provide a pleasant
travel experience for all."
"We know that summer travel can be stressful for passengers and
airports are well organized to handle unexpected schedule changes
or delays," said Greg Principato, ACI-NA president. "We will work
closely with the airlines and the Transportation Security
Administration to ensure safe and smooth operations for travelers.
In the case of delays, airports will help to provide a full range
of business and leisure services to meet passenger needs."
Record-high jet fuel
prices, a weakening economy and airline capacity cuts are the main
reasons for the reduction in the number of passengers; still
airplanes will be flying with relatively full loads. And, with the
cost of jet fuel approaching $170 per barrel, airlines will be
taking every conceivable step to minimize delays and improve
operational efficiencies... meaning added grief for airline
"Unfortunately, uncontrollable factors such as bad weather can
disrupt the best airline efforts," said May. "To help ensure smooth
flying, we encourage passengers to check their flight status and
check in online before leaving home, allowing for plenty of time at
the airport for security and check-in processing. Working together
we are doing our best to make this summer travel season better than
ATA recommends the usual steps towards alleviating grief --
printing out boarding passes ahead of time, following the TSA's
guidelines for liquids in carry-on luggage, and making sure you
have the proper identification.
The groups also recommend placing amenities -- , including
prescriptions or other medicines and snacks (and for those
traveling with children, baby food/diapers) -- in carry-on
baggage, in case of delays... which, alas, we'll likely have more
than a few of this season.