Originally created 12/16/01

People returning to air travel



WASHINGTON -- More people are flying, but air travel still has not recovered from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The Air Transport Association reported Friday that 38.7 million passengers flew aboard major U.S. airlines in November, down 19.9 percent from the 48.3 million passengers who flew during the same month in 2000.

A month earlier, U.S. airlines carried 38.2 million passengers, a 23.1 percent decline from 49.7 million passengers flying in October 2000, according to the ATA, the trade group for the major airlines.

"There is a return to travel," said Dean Headley, associate professor of marketing at Wichita State University and co-author of an annual study on airline quality. "Airports are feeling busy again and airlines are saying business is coming back."

On domestic routes, 35.4 million passengers flew U.S. airlines in November, a decline of 19.5 percent over the 44 million air travelers who flew during the same month in 2000. In October, 35.1 million passengers flew domestically, down 22.3 percent from the 45.2 million flying in October 2000.

After paring hundreds of flights following the terrorist attacks, airlines flew 68.2 percent full on domestic routes last month, down from 70.6 percent in November 2000.

There is one benefit to fewer flights, the Transportation Department found.

The department reported that 84.8 percent of airline flights arrived within 15 minutes of their scheduled time in October, the highest percentage since September 1997, when planes had an 85 percent on-time record.

The motorists' advocacy group AAA said 11.5 million Americans traveling at least 50 miles from home planned to go by plane, train or bus this Christmas-New Year's holiday, a drop of 20 percent from 14.4 million in 2000.

The Air Transport Association said the major airlines expected to carry almost 40 million passengers during the holiday season, a slight increase over the 39 million in 2000.

On the Net:

Air Transport Association: http://www.airlines.org