Friday, December 9, 2016

Number of Airline Passengers Expected to Increase by 3.5% from Last Year's Holiday Season

The holidays are a time when many people travel across the country to visit their family and friends and celebrate. Because of that, it can always be expected that airlines will be very busy in December, almost as busy as during the summer months when people are traveling on vacation. This year especially, analysts expect overcrowding at airports to be at an all-time high. In fact, according to Hugo Martin's L.A. Times article, the number of holiday fliers is expected to increase this year by 3.5%.

In 2015, over 70 million people took US-based flights in the month of December. This year, it is expected that over 45 million people will be flying during the holiday season that makes up the 21 days starting on December 16th. According to a trade group called Airlines for America, the increase in demand will likely force airlines to either increase the number of people per flight or the number of flights per day. If they don't, they will be missing out on potential business and will be upsetting loyal customers, which could hurt their bottom line in the long-run.

Just as the increase in demand is affected by the upcoming holidays, so too is a notable decrease in the number of fliers on certain days. As can be expected, because people are flying in order to spend the holidays with loved ones, they won't want to fly on the holidays themselves. Therefore, it is predicted that the days with the least demand will be Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, and their corresponding days. Similarly, in order to get to their destinations in time for the holidays with the least amount of missed time at work or school, it is expected that the largest number of people will choose to travel on December 22nd or December 23rd.

Airlines for America also released estimates regarding which airlines will likely be the most crowded on those days. The more populous the city, the more potential fliers it contains, so it makes sense that the airports with the largest number of passengers should be: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. So, if you're planning on flying for the holidays and you don't want to get caught up in the chaos that will be the most crowded year in recorded history, you should avoid those popular dates and locations at all costs.

Low airfare and an improving economy are the reasons that economists choose to explain the spike in demand for air travel. While demand usually increases anyway, simply because the population continuously increases, this year's significant boost is cause for a stir among airlines. They are doing everything they can to meet the demand, which includes a 3.9% increase in the number of airplane seats sold per day during the holiday season. Around 99,000 more passengers per day will be  added, and to do that, airlines will have to make many technical and operational changes. Will they be successful at keeping up with the higher number of passengers? It's doubtful, but they might pull it off. 

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