With airfares at history lows, Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. carriers, projects that a record 17.5 million passengers will travel on U.S. airlines worldwide during the week-long Labor Day travel period, up 4 percent over the same long holiday weekend in 2018.
A4A is projecting U.S. airlines will carry an average of 2.51 million passengers per day during the week-long travel period, with Friday, Aug. 30, expected to be the busiest day of the period, with 2.98 million passengers flying aboard U.S. carriers.
During a conference call, A4A vice president and chief economist John Heimlich says that airlines have had to adjust to the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX with come carriers buying additional planes, while others have adjusted their routes.
But despite the 737 MAX grounding resulting in the reduction of more than 300 daily flights, Heimlich says capacity will be up during the upcoming holiday, with carriers adding 109,000 seats per day to their schedules to accommodate the additional 95,000 daily passengers expected during the Labor Day travel period.
“Customer satisfactions levels climbed to an all-time high of 773 out of 1,000 as released by JD Power on May 29,” says Heimlich. “Carriers continue to make investments to ensure this trend sustains itself.”
During the call, A4A senior vice president for legislative and regulatory policy, Sharon Pinkerton, also took time to praise the Department of Transportation (DOT) in recently stepping up to tighten the rules regarding the use of Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) on flights.
With more than one million passengers bringing ESAs on flights last year, airlines and airports saw a sharp increase in incidents such as biting and mauling by untrained animals and other safety issues, she says.
Earlier this month the DOT issued new enforcement guidance on the use of ESAs and Pinkerton says, “We commend DOT for taking the next step toward defining service animals by sending the proposed rule to the White House.”