PHOTO: Airlines and airports are expected to see more travelers this spring. (Photo via Flickr/Helge V. Keitel)
Aviation trade group Airlines for America has forecast a hot spring for the industry.
A4A says 145 million passengers will fly this spring between March 1 and April 30 based on numbers already in, along with projected numbers for the rest of this month and next.
That’s an increase of four percent over last spring’s 140 million passengers and a boost to nearly 2.4 million passengers per day. As such, airlines are adding 110,000 seats per day across their networks to accommodate the 89,000 additional daily passengers expected to fly on U.S. carriers during this period.
“There has never been a better time to fly, as evidenced by the record levels of traffic U.S. airlines saw in 2016 and will see again this spring,” A4A Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich said in a statement.
“While historically low fares, reliable operations and several consecutive years of reinvestment in the product are the primary factors underlying this growth, a boost in U.S. employment and personal incomes and the highest-ever level of household net worth are also fueling the strong demand for air travel. With spring weather on the horizon, consumers are eager to travel and airlines are more than ready to accommodate the growth expected this year with additional seats, new aircraft and increases in staffing.”
One reason for the spring increase: Airlines are not only adding seats but also routes.
U.S. and foreign airlines added 198 new routes and discontinued 161 in the U.S. market during 2016; That's plus-37 in nonstop routes year over year.
We're less than three months into 2017, yet airlines have added a net growth of 17 new routes in the U.S.
READ MORE: Survey Says Fliers More Satisfied In 2016
In addition, U.S. airports have grown from the third quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2017: Large and medium airports across the country had seat growth of 8 percent and 12.2 percent, respectively, during that time, while small and non-hub airports realized growth of 10.2 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively.
“Airlines recognize how important flight availability is to their customers and are working to benefit the millions of daily passengers they serve with expanded routes and more seat supply,” said Heimlich.
“These expanded routes and the growth in air service at airports of all sizes serve as a reminder of the important role airlines play in connecting communities across America.”