The busiest travel days of the year will be even busier.
The number of travelers flying for the Thanksgiving holiday is expected to reach 25 million for the 12-day period around the fall holiday, a 1.5% increase over last year, according to a projection by Airlines for America, the trade group for the nation's airlines.
That means that on the busiest travel days of the year -- Wednesday, Nov. 27; Sunday, Dec. 1; and Monday Dec. 2,-- the nation's airlines will carry 2.42 million, 2.56 million and 2.36 million passengers, respectively, the group predicted. (The least busy travel day of the year will be Thanksgiving Day.)
Although airlines have added about 2% more capacity for the holiday, expect to see an average of 85% of seats filed, compared to the average of 83% for all of 2012, according to federal statistics.
Thanks partly to stable fuel costs and efforts by airlines to fill a higher percentage of seats, the nation's largest airlines are enjoying higher profits than last year.
In the first nine months of 2013, the 10 largest U.S. carriers reported earnings of $4.5 billion, resulting in a profit margin of 4%, compared to $312 million, or 0.3%, in 2012, according to Airlines for America.
“When airlines are profitable, customers, employees and the economy win because airlines are better able to invest in the business and improve the product and travel experience,” said John Heimlich, chief economist for the airline trade group.
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