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Air Transport Association expects 2.5% decline in air travelers over winter period

Air Transport Association expects 2.5% decline in air travelers over winter period

The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, announced today that it expects 41 million passengers(1) to travel over the upcoming winter holidays(2) on U.S. carriers, representing a 2.5 percent year-over-year decline from the 42 million passengers(1) estimated to have flown during the same period in 2008.(3)

The three busiest travel days during this holiday period are expected to be Sunday, Dec. 27, Monday, Dec. 28 and Tuesday, Dec. 29, respectively, based on sample data from the 2008 winter holiday period.

“We are continuing to see fewer air travelers over the holidays, a trend that has been apparent throughout 2009,” said ATA President and CEO James C. May. “Capacity reductions will likely mean fuller flights on many days.” May added that the decline continues to be driven by a fragile economy and depressed global demand for travel.

ATA is expecting the federal government, once again, to open up Special Activity Airspace (SAS) on an as-needed basis to help ease congestion. SAS was also made available over the Thanksgiving holiday.

May encouraged passengers to pack light, to check their flight status before leaving for the airport, and to remember to arrive early to allow plenty of time for check-in and security screening.


In addition, ATA encourages passengers to consult its resource page for recommended travel tips. In particular, passengers are encouraged to keep in mind the following:

  * It is strongly recommended that all passengers review the Web site of the airline on which they are flying for respective policies, amenities, customer service plans and flight-operation alert notifications.
  * Pack any gifts unwrapped, as they may need to be inspected by security. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is also providing additional Helpful Hints for Holiday Travelers online.
  * Remember that TSA requires that air travelers follow its 3-1-1 Rule for liquids, gels and aerosols in carry-on bags when passing through security checkpoints.
  * Passengers should be aware that they could be asked to provide their date of birth and gender when making a reservation, as part of the TSA Secure Flight program. Travelers should expect no change in the travel experience, however, as part of this security initiative.

ATA airline members and their affiliates transport more than 90 percent of all U.S. airline passenger and cargo traffic. For additional information about the industry, visit

(1) The total number of revenue passengers boarding aircraft in scheduled service.

(2) Defined as the 21 days spanning Thurs., Dec. 17, 2009 through Wed., Jan. 6, 2010.

(3) There is no source of industrywide traffic statistics for less than one month, so historical data for holiday travel periods must be estimated.