Full Thanksgiving flights seen despite travel drop

WASHINGTON Fri Nov 4, 2011 6:53am EDT

Travelers line up at Denver International Airport on the day before the Thanksgiving holiday in Denver November 24, 2010. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Travelers line up at Denver International Airport on the day before the Thanksgiving holiday in Denver November 24, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. air travellers can expect full flights during the Thanksgiving holiday even as the weak economy cuts the number of passengers about 2 percent from 2010, the Air Transport Association said on Thursday.

The full planes over Thanksgiving, the busiest travel period of the year, will result from U.S. carriers cutting capacity to match lower demand and trim costs, the ATA, an industry group, said in a statement.

Compared with 2010, about 37,000 fewer people a day are expected to fly during the 12-day period surrounding the November 24 holiday, it said.

An ATA spokesman said the drop was a result of the sputtering U.S. economy, including high unemployment and a decline in disposable income.

The statement said the ATA expected about 23.2 million people will fly on U.S. carriers' domestic and international routes over the period.

The busiest days for the period are expected to be Sunday, November 27, and Monday, November 28, followed by Friday, November 18.

An ATA study of publicly reporting U.S. passenger airlines shows net income of $913 million for the first nine months of 2011, down 66 percent from 2010, the statement said.

Operating revenues were up 12.7 percent in the period, but operating expenses rose 16.1 percent. Fuel expenses increased 38.1 percent. (Reporting by Ian Simpson and Greg McCune; Editing by Bill Trott)

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