U.S. airlines adding 109,000 seats per day to accommodate record number of air travelers
Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, announced today that it expects a record 17.5 million passengers to travel on U.S. airlines worldwide during the week-long Labor Day travel period, which extends from Aug. 28 through Sept. 3. That represents a 4 percent increase from the 16.9 million passengers estimated to have flown during the same holiday period last year.
“With fares at historic lows and customer satisfaction at historic highs, travelers continue to take to the skies in record numbers,” said A4A Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich.
A4A is projecting U.S. airlines to carry an average of 2.51 million passengers per day during the week-long travel period. Friday, Aug. 30, is expected to be the busiest day of the period, with 2.98 million passengers flying aboard U.S. carriers, followed by Thursday, Aug. 29, with 2.82 million passengers, and Labor Day itself, Monday, Sept. 2, with 2.71 million passengers. Even as U.S. airlines cope with the reduction of more than 300 daily flights due to the grounding of the 737 MAX, they are adding 109,000 seats per day to their schedules to accommodate the additional 95,000 daily passengers expected during the Labor Day travel period.
Airlines Applaud DOT Action on Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)
The availability of fraudulent emotional support animal (ESA) credentials online has enabled people who are not truly in need of animal assistance to abuse the rules and evade airline policies regarding animals in the cabin. With over a 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. A4A applauds the enforcement guidance issued by the Department of Transportation (DOT) on August 8.
A4A and a coalition of more than 80 other organizations, including dozens of disability and service animal groups, thanked Secretary Chao for her leadership and are urging the DOT to adopt the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) definition of a service animal in its upcoming Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). Doing so would further address the growing problem of ESAs while protecting the legitimate right of passengers with a disability to travel with a trained service animal.
“The Department of Transportation’s enforcement guidance was a great step forward in addressing the safety and comfort of the traveling public while protecting the rights of disabled passengers,” said A4A Senior Vice President for Legislative and Regulatory Policy Sharon Pinkerton. “We hope the DOT will ensure a safer and healthier travel experience for all by aligning its definition of a service animal with the ADA definition.”
Airlines Oppose Unnecessary Airport Tax Hike
U.S. airport revenues are at an all-time high and airport construction is booming across the country, yet some are asking Congress to double or even completely uncap the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), the airport tax passengers pay on every leg of their flight. If the PFC is doubled, a family of four will have to pay an additional $72 – or $144 total – for a roundtrip, one-stop domestic flight.
“With airports already flush with cash, raising the airport tax is simply not fair to the flying public,” said Pinkerton. “Airports don’t need a tax hike and passengers don’t want one.”
In 2018, U.S. airport revenues reached a record $32 billion. In addition, they are sitting on $16 billion in cash, and the surplus in the Airport and Airway Trust Fund is projected to approach $10 billion in 2020.