Ted S. Warren/APBy Philip LeBeau
A brutal winter for U.S. airlines is finally expected to warm up and deliver record passenger levels this spring according to the latest industry forecast.
Airlines for America, an industry trade group that represents the interests of nine domestic carriers, estimates more than 129 million people (2.1 million per day) will take domestic flights in March and April.
Another 17.1 million people are expected to board international flights with U.S. airlines this month and next.
“We attribute the increase in spring air travel to rising U.S. household net worth, an improving economy, and the affordability of air travel,” said John Heimlich, Airlines for America vice president and chief economist.
If the forecasts hold up, it will be a much welcomed rebound after a terrible start to the year for airlines crippled by a series of snow storms and bitter cold.
So far this year, more than 78,000 flights have been canceled according to FlightAware.com.
Those cancellations have cost airlines tens of millions of dollars.
Best profits in yearsSource: Airlines for America
Packed Planes Push 2013 Profits
The rough winter weather which started in December barely put a dent in one of the most profitable years ever for U.S. airlines.
In 2013, domestic carriers made a profit of $7.4 Billion, excluding special charges.
What fueled it was in large part the moderate price of jet fuel.
Meanwhile, the percentage of seats filled on airplanes stayed relatively high and airlines continued to collect several billion dollars in ancillary fees.
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