Tourism Industry News
Airlines say holiday bookings still strong
Several carriers have said that advance bookings show their planes are expected to be as full as or fuller than a year ago over the late fall and winter holidays -- largely because they have taken so many seats out of the air, a decision that was made when fuel prices were soaring.
In fact, travelers who have not booked flights for the holidays could find it more difficult and expensive than usual to find the flights they want, when they want them.
Because of the capacity cuts, fuller planes do not mean more people will be flying. It also may be tougher for ski resorts and sunny vacation destinations to keep their numbers up, though some are offering promotions to lure holiday travelers who may be hesitant to open their wallets amid an uncertain economy.
''I think the consumer now has a lot of things on their mind -- they're concerned about the economy, they're concerned about the election, but I think they have already made the decision about what they are going to do over Thanksgiving and Christmas,'' said Arne Haak, chief financial officer of discount carrier AirTran Airways.
Haak said the carrier -- a unit of Orlando, Fla.-based AirTran Holdings Inc. -- has not seen a slowdown in bookings over the holidays.
''In fact, Christmas looks very, very good,'' he said.
The picture is similar at Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc., an executive said.
''I think it might be the newness of the information,'' Ed Bastian, Delta's chief financial officer, said of travelers' response to the economic crisis.
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