Big holiday crowds expected at airports

Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — A stronger economy and lower airfares are expected to increase the number of holiday air travelers by

3.5 percent this year.

During the 21-day

holiday travel period starting Dec. 16, 45.2 million travelers will fly on U.S.-based airlines, prompting airlines to add extra flights or bigger planes to serve the travel surge, according to Airlines for America, the trade group for the nation’s airlines.

The busiest travel days are expected to be Thursday, Dec. 22, and Friday, Dec. 23. The lightest days should be Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, the trade group said.

The busiest airports during the holiday period should be Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the group predicted.

To accommodate the increased demand, airlines are expected to add 99,000 extra seats a day during the holiday season, a

3.9 percent increase.

“An improved economy and reduced airfares remain the driving force behind the growth seen in air travel,” said John Heimlich, chief economist for Airlines for America.