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Christmas Travel Could Get Scrooged This Year

Christmas Travel Could Get Scrooged This Year
Joe Cortez

Airlines brace for smaller holiday crowds due to Christmas falling on a Sunday.

Those flying home for the Christmas holiday could find themselves traveling alone, if airline projections are to be believed. USA Today reports that airlines are bracing for a swell of air traffic in November and January, with a diminished amount of traffic coming in December.

In 2015, Airlines for America projected 38 million flyers would take to the skies during the Christmas holiday period between December 18 and January 3. This year, because the Christmas holiday falls on a Sunday, many airlines believe that the crowds will not be as heavy for holiday flyers in part because schools will remain in session all the way up to the holiday.

“The overall compression of the holiday will create less travel,” Marty St. George, executive vice president of commercial and planning at JetBlue, told analysts according to USA Today. “Based on what we see in previous years with Christmas layouts like this.”

The New York-based carrier is not the only one preparing for a frosty winter season. In earnings announcements during the month of October, all three legacy carriers announced a potential decrease in traffic during December, with regular traffic resuming in January. Both American Airlines president Robert Isom and Delta Air Lines president Glen Hauenstein warned investors of flat growth in December due to “holiday shifts,” while United Airlines president Scott Kirby noted that demand is “dramatically different” with the holiday falling on a Sunday. While none of the legacy carriers projected how much the bottom line could suffer, USA Today reports JetBlue is bracing for a three percent drop in December revenue compared to the previous year.

In comparison to the Christmas holiday, AAA projected over 46 million Americans would travel for Thanksgiving in 2015. However, only 3.6 million were expected to fly during the November holiday season.

[Photo: Reuters/Toussaint Kluiters]

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