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ATA Airline Passenger Trends for 2008

Air Traffic ControlThe Airline Travelers Association (ATA) has put together a list of what they anticipate for the airline industry next year. It’s pretty depressing, and the association doesn’t offer any solutions to the problems listed. Pretty much every item listed will be a familiar topic to those of you who travel frequently, or even to those of you who read the News.

1. The Battle with the Government over Delayed Flights versus High Fares will Continue. I can only guess at what they mean on this one. The bulk of airline delays these days are due to air traffic control problems. There are a whole lot of airplanes taking up space out there, getting passenger to and fro. In order to reduce the delays, the airlines would have to reduce the number of flights. If they were to reduce the number of flights, the price of tickets would skyrocket. Supply and demand.

2. The Airline System will Continue to Operate at or Near Capacity. If you fly pretty often, you’ve probably noticed that empty seats are hard to come by these days. U.S. carriers are packing passengers in and gone are the days of having a whole row to yourself to stretch out.

3. The Start of the Next Generation Air Traffic Control System will continue to be Delayed. Supposedly, a new air traffic control system is in the works that will clear up all of the traffic issues the airlines have been having over the last few years.

4. There will be More Reports of Near Collisions in the Air and On the Ground. Scary, huh? Again, due to increased traffic.

5. The Battle Over the Passengers’ Bill of Rights versus Passengers Rights to Get to Their Destination Will Continue. I think I made it clear what I think of the Passengers’ Bill of Rights in this post.

6. Watch for Domestic Airlines to Merge or Accept Foreign Carrier Investments. There have been a boatload of rumors over the last year about different airlines merging. I guess some of them may turn out to be true.

7. Expect More Regional Jets in Our Future. I don’t know why, when larger airlines are packing their flights to the max. But companies like Express Jet have been offering stand alone service to more and more destinations.

8. There will be Continued Service Problems with Airlines with Labor Problems. Disgruntled employees will still be disgruntled if they’re still treated like garbage.

9. The Competition Between the Super-Jumbo Airbus A380 versus Super-Nonstop Boeing 787 will begin in 2009. Those are two big planes. I don’t think the Boeing has made its first flight as of yet. I have heard discussions that the A380 isn’t really an efficient aircraft, as far as cost/benefit for the airlines.

10. The Battle Between Residents on the Ground over Noise and Airline Passengers in the Air will Continue. This may be a big problem in New York, but I’m just guessing. The Transportation Department is mandating hourly flight caps on New York airports. The association wants the airlines to run as many daily flights, but to spread them out to off peak hours. The people who are live near the airport who are sleeping during “off peak” hours may have an issue with that.