Four percent fewer passengers will board U.S. airlines over this year's Thanksgiving holiday compared with last year, the Air Transport Association says.
But don't expect planes to be less full. As noted here yesterday, airline capacity -- the number of seats available -- dropped by 5.1 percent in the three months ended in September.
Still, it's very unusual to be walking up to a big travel holiday and reporting a downward travel trend like this one.
"It is increasingly apparent that the economic head-winds facing the airlines and their customers are anything but behind us. The recent announcement that U.S. unemployment surpassed 10 percent highlights one of the key factors impacting consumer buying decisions," James C. May, the ATA president and CEO, said in a statement.
The airline trade group said, "As typical with the Thanksgiving holiday travel period, flights are likely to be quite full, driven this year by the decrease in available seats and deep discounting, rather than by robust demand. Carriers have cut back their schedules in response to economic pressures, with 2009 capacity reductions the deepest since 1942."