ATA Forecasts Thanksgiving Travel Recovery

When it comes to assessing the health of the U.S. travel industry, few indicators are as strong as holiday travel, which is expected to increase slightly this year over last, according to the Air Transport Association of America (ATA).

In a forecast released last week, ATA said it expects a 3.5 percent year-over-year increase in the number of passengers traveling on U.S. airlines during the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday season. In total, it projects 24 million air travelers during the 12-day holiday period, with daily passenger volumes ranging from 1.3 million to 2.5 million.

"It is reassuring to see travel levels rebounding, with the stronger economy," said ATA President and CEO James C. May. "While modest, the recovery is particularly encouraging given the deep hole that this industry was in a year ago."

As is typical during the holiday season, average daily load factors will approach 90 percent on the busiest days, according to ATA, which said passenger volume will be highest on Sunday, Nov. 28; Monday, Nov. 29; Friday, Nov. 19; and Wednesday, Nov. 24. Thursday, Nov. 25, is expected to be the least busy day.