Thanksgiving Air Traffic Expected To Decline, But Flights Will Be Full

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 94 views 

The Air Transport Association of America (ATA) recently announced it expects about 23.2 million air travelers will fly on U.S. carriers’ domestic and international routes during the Thanksgiving holiday period. The passenger number is a 2% decline from the 2010 period, but ATA officials say flights will be more packed because of fewer planes operating in the system.

According to the ATA, the number of “mainline passenger” planes in the U.S. fleet total 3,713, down from 3,718 in 2009 and well below the 4,488 in 2000. The non-mainline fleet — regional feeder aircraft — totaled 2,577 in 2010, down from 2,680 in 2009. The ATA does not have fleet numbers for 2011.

The ATA also said the 2011 Thanksgiving passenger volume forecast will decline 12% compared to the peak volumes reached in the same period in 2006.

“While demand is down from last year and remains well below the 2006 peak, passengers still should expect full flights during the Thanksgiving holiday travel season as airlines have begun to reduce capacity and limit the number of seats available for sale due in part to rising cost pressures,” ATA Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich said in a statement.

Enplanement levels during the second half of 2011 are declining in Northwest Arkansas, Little Rock and Fort Smith.

Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) saw its September traffic hit 44,104, down 9.41% compared to September 2010. (XNA has not posted October enplanements as of Nov. 7.)

During the first nine months of 2011, the airport reported 425,329 enplanements, up just 0.21% compared to the 424,439 in the 2010 period. Traffic at the airport has fallen since June, when year-to-date traffic for the first half of the year was up almost 4% compared to the 2010 period. During 2010, XNA had 570,625 enplanements, up 5.49% over 2009.

Enplanements continued in September a downward decline at the Little Rock National Airport. Enplanements at the airport totaled 91,655, down 0.91% compared to September 2010. During the first nine months of 2011, enplanements totaled 820,195, down 2.78% (The airport did not have October data as of Nov. 7). In 2010, the airport had 1.129 million enplanements, down 3.8% compared to 2009, and down 5.3% from 2008.

Enplanement traffic at the Fort Smith Regional Airport was down in October, and pushed the year-to-date numbers down compared to the 2010 period.

October enplanements at the airport totaled 7,565, down 8.09% compared to the 8,231 during October 2010. For the first 10 months of 2011, enplanements at the airport total 71,195, down 1.03% compared to the 71,942 in the 2010 period.

Michael Tilley with our content partner, The City Wire, is the author of this article. He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].