Higher airfare, crowded planes likely to linger after summer

Higher airfare, crowded planes likely to linger after summer

Bloomberg NewsJuly 3, 2014 

Air travelers are paying more to fly in the U.S. this summer on crowded planes as carriers keep capacity tight, conditions passengers will have to get used to beyond the vacation period.

Carriers are offering fewer flights, have dropped routes to certain cities and in some cases are flying smaller planes on trips in the U.S. amid strong demand, helping to boost summer fares 4.5 percent from a year ago.

An average domestic round trip fare has climbed to $399.48, based on data from Travelocity.com. An international ticket is about 2.3 percent more than a year ago, at $991.82.

This is the busiest season for U.S. carriers, with passenger traffic at its heaviest in July, followed by August, then June, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Airlines for America, an industry trade group, forecast that travel on U.S. carriers this summer will be the highest in six years. But don't expect seats to open up or fares to fall much once summer ends.

"Unless and until we see meaningful expansion among existing airlines or new competitors successfully launch service, we will continue to see airfares increase and flights remain crowded," said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and founder of Atmosphere Research Group in San Francisco.

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