I always look forward to the chatty eight-times-a-year trans-Atlantic travel reports by Donald N. Martin & Co., the travel promotion company. The current one, forwarded by Hans C. Friis-Jacobsen and Neil S. Martin, the managing partners of the firm, is as usual full of interesting factoids, comments and even detailed charts for us serious travel geeks.
I hope they don't mind me sharing the whole report.
Among the highlights:
--Overall trans-Atlantic traffic fell in November for the 13th consecutive month. But seat capacity was down an average 6.1 percent, twice the percentage of decline for passenger traffic.
--The number of Americans holding passports continues to rise, with a record one third of the U.S. population now having a passport. "Since 2003, the number of passport-holding Americans has surged by more than 35 million -- an extraordinary 60 percent -- to 94.5 million (not counting passport cards)," says the report. (This gives lie to the canard, frequently repeated in European media, that a shockingly small number of Americans hold passports.)
--Overall U.S. domestic capacity is down 6.9 percent for 2009, the largest annual percent reduction since a 12-percent cut in 1942, the report says, quoting the Air Transport Association. OAG, the airline schedule publisher, has previously said that overall U.S. domestic capacity has been reduced by over 20 percent since 2000. (That's the equivalent of losing an entire major airline's capacity.)
--And this one was inevitable: While airlines currently flying new super-jumbo A380 double-deckers configure them in the 450-550-seat range in multiple classes (Air France's new A380 has 538 seats, for example), the giant Airbus airplane is actually certified to hold 855 passengers in an-all coach configuration. Sure enough, one airline, Air Austral, based in the French overseas region of Reunion in the Indian Ocean, has ordered two A380 configured in all-coach settings with 840 seats each. Delivery is scheduled for 2014. And just wait till one of those suckers gets diverted to, say, Mayotte or Lyon.