Airline Traffic Forecast to Rise 4 Percent Around Thanksgiving Holiday With 27 Million Passengers

Airline passenger traffic around the Thanksgiving holiday is forecast to rise 4 percent from a year ago, a trade group for U.S. carriers said Monday.

The Air Transport Association said it expects roughly 27 million passengers to fly over 12 days beginning Nov. 16, with planes about 90 percent full.

In an attempt to minimize travel hassles, some big airlines will add as many as 500 seasonal workers — some of whom had been furloughed — to usher fliers through airports, James May, the president of the association said at a press conference.

The industry anticipates an average of about 2.5 million passengers a day on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the Sunday and Monday after the holiday, according to ATA. Average daily passenger traffic this year is roughly 2.1 million, with load factors of about 80 percent.

The expected uptick in holiday air travel comes in spite of historic delays reported by airlines all year. In 2006, the trade group forecast a 3 percent increase in Thanksgiving passenger demand, compared with a year earlier.

More than 24 percent of flights arrived late through September and the industry's on-time performance through September was the worst since comparable data began being collected in 1995, according to the Transportation Department.