Augusta Economy

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Holiday travel numbers second-highest in a decade

Highway travel's up, air travel down this holiday

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Larry Hogan, of Augusta, is one of the 83.6 million Americans taking to the roads for the holidays. Travel by car should be up 2 percent while air traffic should fall about 10 percent from last year, according to predictions by AAA.

“I don’t want the aggravation of flying. Every 15 steps is another search,” said Hogan, who picked up maps at the AAA location in Augusta on Friday to prepare for his drive to Maryland. From there, Hogan will take either a train or bus to New York City and New Jersey.

Hogan, like many Americans, isn’t willing to give up traveling despite tough economic times, especially for the holidays.

“Traveling is a part of my life,” the 76-year-old said, adding that he takes a holiday trip whenever he can get time off work.

From Dec. 23 to Jan. 2, 91.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more, the second highest holiday travel season in a decade, AAA said.

“This year’s travel forecast is second to the 2006-2007 holiday season when more than 93.6 million Americans traveled,” said Brent Hubele, vice president, AAA Travel, The Auto Club Group, in a press release.

The Chevron on Walton Way Extension has been busy changing oil and rotating tires for customers planning longer trips. Business at the car garage typically picks up about two weeks before Christmas, said the owner, Tommy Smith.

“A lot of people are traveling and they just like to get the car ready to go,” he said.

Last-minute travelers might have a difficult time booking a flight out of the Augusta Regional Airport. Director of Marketing Diane Johnston said flights have been full or nearly full for the past week and should continue that way through Christmas.

Returning military members have packed planes into Augusta and passengers have been bumped from flights in some cases, Johnston said.

GASOLINE COST
FRIDAY
Augusta$3.04
Georgia$3.18
South Carolina$3.06
YEAR AGO
Augusta$2.83
Georgia$2.87
South Carolina$2.81

Source: AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report; prices are averages for regular gasoline


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