U.S. airlines are expected to carry an all-time high 257 million passengers this summer, according to a report from Airlines for America and CQ Roll Call.
The projection, released this month at the 2023 Summer Travel Summit in Washington, defines the summer as June 1 through August 31, 2023.
Despite having to trim schedules, U.S. airlines will be able to accommodate the higher demand by using larger aircraft, the report said. Year over year, U.S. airlines are adding 297,000 seats per day to accommodate 243,000 more passengers per day.
“U.S. airlines have been hiring aggressively for positions across the industry. We now have the most workers we’ve had in 20 years. Airlines also are reducing their flight schedules to accommodate current realities, including the FAA’s air traffic controller staffing shortages,” said Nicholas E. Calio, A4A President and CEO. “It has been said time and time again that the U.S. is the gold standard for aviation safety. We take pride in that, and we work hard at that every single day. It takes collaboration throughout the National Airspace System to maintain that safety record. Simply put, safety is—and always will be—our top priority.”
A4A Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich presented a summer outlook, followed by a panel discussion between A4A Senior Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Policy Sharon Pinkerton, former NATCA president Paul Rinaldi and TSA Assistant Administrator for Strategic Communications and Public Affairs Alexa Lopez. The panel was moderated by CQ Roll Call congressional reporter Valerie Yurk.
“Airlines are doing everything they can to prepare for this peak season,” said Heimlich. “Roughly 487,000 full-time equivalent workers at U.S passenger airlines. That number is definitely above the pre-pandemic level. It is also the highest number since October 2001.”