May 14, 2018 / 2:42 PM / in 6 days

U.S. Memorial Day travel to rise for fourth straight year: AAA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. travelers will hit the roads, rails and airports this Memorial Day Weekend by the largest numbers in more than a decade, despite the highest gasoline prices in four years, the nation’s largest automotive advocacy group said on Monday.

People head west toward the mountains leaving Denver for the Memorial Day weekend, the U.S. annual kickoff for summer, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

More than 41.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles (80 km) over Memorial Day weekend, the highest travel volume since 2005, when there were some 44 million travelers, according to the AAA, or American Automobile Association.

The holiday period, which traditionally marks the start of U.S. summer vacations, is defined this year as Thursday, May 24 to Monday, May 28.

Motorists are expected to pay the most expensive Memorial Day gas prices since 2014.

Gas prices averaged $2.72 in April, AAA said, an increase of 33 cents from last year due to rising crude oil prices and strong gasoline demand. Despite higher prices, automobile travel is expected to increase for the fourth straight year, up nearly 5 percent over last Memorial Day, AAA said.

“A strong economy and growing consumer confidence are giving Americans all the motivation they need to kick off what we expect to be a busy summer travel season with a Memorial Day getaway,” said Bill Sutherland, senior vice president at AAA.

Air travel will register the highest growth of all travel modes, with an expected 6.8 percent increase to 3.13 million, AAA said.

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares are 7 percent lower than last Memorial Day, at an average round-trip price of $168 for the top 40 domestic routes.

Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Dan Grebler

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