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U.S. planes full despite big declines

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: This morning's theme has been gatherings, and that family get-together in a couple of weeks is likely to mean more foul for airlines than you. Yeah, it's the busiest time of the year for high fliers, and those planes will likely be crowded, but the tanking economy is clipping some wings. Here's Marketplace's Janet Babin.


Janet Babin: Thanksgiving travel on U.S. airlines is expected to dive about 10 percent from last year. The Air Transport Association trade group says it's the first decline for holiday air travel in seven years.

The drag is largely due to the weak economy. Consumers are thinking twice before flying.

Aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia at The Teal Group says U.S. carriers depend on leisure travel to fill seats, so the drop in demand will likely catch up with them.

Richard Aboulafia: The big American legacy carriers, pretty much the entire U.S. airline industry, is unique in the world -- it's heavily geared towards volume and critical mass rather than focusing on the best kind of traffic.

The best kind of traffic being business class and international flights.

While there will be fewer people flying this holiday season, your plane will probably still be full. High fuel costs have forced most airlines to cut capacity.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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