Airlines predict record Thanksgiving US holiday travel

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Major U.S. airlines and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said Monday they expect record air travel over the Thanksgiving holiday air travel period.

Airlines for America, an industry group representing American Airlines United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and others, forecasts 29.9 million passengers between Nov. 17-27, an all-time high and up 9% over the 27.5 million in the same period last year — and up 1.7 million passengers over pre-COVID record levels.

TSA said in the 12-day period ending Nov. 28 it forecasts screening 30 million U.S. air passengers and expects to set the busiest ever one-day screening during the holiday period.

Airlines for America says Nov. 26 will be a record-setting air travel day with 3.2 million passengers. U.S. airlines are offering 253,000 additional seats per day on average over 2022.

The record travel comes despite airline flight cuts to New York airports because of air traffic controller staffing.

The Federal Aviation Administration in September, citing air traffic controller staffing issues, extended cuts to minimum flight requirements at congested New York City-area airports through October 2024.

JetBlue Airways on Oct. 25 told Congress it was ending service between Burlington, Vermont and New York-JFK Airport saying “the primary driver is FAA’s ongoing air traffic control staffing challenges.”

Under minimum flight requirements, airlines can lose their takeoff and landing slots at congested airports if they do not use them at least 80% of the time. The waiver allows airlines to not fly some flights and still retain slots.

A government watchdog said in June critical ATC facilities face significant staffing challenges, posing risks to air traffic operations.

In the summer of 2022, there were 41,498 flights from New York airports in which ATC staffing was a contributing factor in delays. New York Terminal Radar Approach Control staffing was at just 54%, the report said.

(Reporting by David Shepardson;Editing by Alistair Bell)


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