May 16 More people will likely fly this summer
compared with a year ago as U.S. airlines gain a record level of
international passengers, an industry association said on
Airlines for America, the top U.S. airline industry group,
forecast that close to 209 million people will fly on the
nation's carriers from June through August, up 1 percent from a
year ago. That outlook includes 27 million international
travelers, a record number, the group said on Thursday.
"Our carriers' international competitiveness and their
ability to tap emerging markets, where GDP growth rate is
outpacing the U.S. or outpacing some of the European countries,
is really what it's all about," said John Heimlich, chief
economist at Airlines for America.
The summer is seasonally a strong period for airlines as
people take vacations. This week, Delta Air Lines and
Southwest Airlines said revenue trends were improving
for May after softness in March and April.
Staff furloughs at U.S. air traffic control towers during a
week in April caused flight delays at some airports.
Airlines for America estimated that the furloughs disrupted
about 7,200 flights over the six days they were in place,
affecting travel for 600,000 passengers and costing U.S.
airlines about $50 million in lost revenue and other expenses.
The staff cuts were suspended by the Federal Aviation
Administration after passage of legislation allowing the agency
to shift money within its budget to end them.
The industry group said air travel was being aided by lower
energy prices, increased corporate profits and higher household
The expected number of flying passengers this year would
mark the highest number of summer air travelers for U.S.
airlines since 2008, when more than 210 million flew. U.S.
carriers had their highest number of flying passengers ever
during the summer of 2007, at more than 217 million, the
industry group said.
The group also said U.S. airlines as a whole improved their
financial performance in the first quarter. Ten publicly traded
airlines tracked by the group had a combined loss of $552
million in the period, compared with a loss of $1.7 billion a
year earlier. Revenue for the group rose 2.5 percent in the
first quarter to $34.3 billion.