Airlines Expecting Number Of Passengers Flying This Spring To Hit 7-Year High

Americans are taking to the skies in numbers that are expected to surpass the amount of passengers in the last seven years, falling just shy of the number of air travelers in 2007, just before the recession smacked the country back down to the ground.

Airlines expect the number of passengers traveling this spring to be at a high, according to the trade group Airlines for America, reports USA Today.

More people are taking to the air now because more people have jobs and thus, are making more money, says John Heimlich, the group’s chief economist. Spring travel will be buzzing due to “an improving economy, the highest consumer sentiment in a decade and the continued affordability of air travel, which remains one of the best bargains for consumers,” he says.

Ten publicly traded airlines are expecting to carry a combined 134.8 million travelers during March and April, a 2% bump from the same period last year.

In order to accommodate the rush, airlines are adding seats by deploying new, larger aircraft, Heimlich notes.

Though the trade group points to the “affordability” of flying and says the drop in fuel prices will allow airlines to reinvest in their equipment with bigger planes and onboard WiFi, among other things, skeptics say the increased numbers don’t necessarily mean the airlines are treating consumers well.

“Every piece of evidence we have shows that our infrastructure is already straining under the current load, and that passengers are frustrated beyond words by overcrowded flights and delays in the terminal and on the tarmac,” Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association told USA Today. “The travel community has said time and again that we need to work together to modernize and expand our system in order to maximize efficiency and let new carriers into the marketplace.”

Airlines expect the most passengers since 2007 [USA Today]