Airline industry preparing for record 246 million summer travelers

Written by on May 23, 2018

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Airports across the country are expected to serve a record number of summer travelers this year, but if all goes to plan for airline and security officials, you may not even notice.

Airlines for America, an industry trade group representing many of the largest domestic airlines, projected on Wednesday that 246.1 million people will board U.S. commercial flights between June 1 and Aug. 31, 2018. That increase would be up 3.7 percent from last year’s record 237.3 million passengers.

The announcement follows the Transportation Security Administration’s own historic projection of 243 million passengers and crew to pass through security checkpoints nationwide between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

TSA is hoping to minimize the impact on their checkpoints by adding another 1,000 officers at screening areas, the agency announced last week. The agency has already added 600 since the beginning of the year.

“TSA screens over 2 million passengers on an average day throughout the year and expects to screen over 2.6 million a day during peak periods of the busy summer travel season,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said last week.

Airlines are also increasing their capacity this summer. Adding more flights and larger aircraft to their routes, airlines are adding 116,000 seats per day to accommodate the 96,000 additional daily passengers they expect to carry during this period, Airlines for America said.

The surge in summer air travel during the last two years is generally credited to a stronger economy and lower air fares, despite rising costs for airlines in 2017.

According to Airlines for America, cost increases were led by fuel, up 23.3 percent, and labor, up 6.8 percent. With a 7 percent year over year growth in revenues, the nine publicly traded U.S. passenger airlines have seen an overall drop in profitability.

Despite the decrease in profitability, air fares continue to be low, largely driven by the introduction of low-cost carriers to the market.

The price of domestic air travel fell 12.5 percent from 2014 to 2017, according to the trade group.

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