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Hurricane Sandy pushed U.S. air travel down in October, report says

November 29, 2012|By Hugo Martin

Overall domestic air travel in the U.S. dropped slightly in October, partly because of the closure of several East Coast airports during the onslaught of Superstorm Sandy.

The analysis of the impact of the storm on the airline industry came in a report Thursday by the International Air Transport Assn., a trade group for the world's largest airlines.

The group had previously estimated that the world's airlines lost up to $500 million in revenue because of the cancellation of thousands of flights during the storm in late October and early November.

The trade group estimated that the industry lost most of the revenue between Oct. 28 and Nov. 3. At the peak of the storm, on Monday, Oct. 29, about 9% of global airline capacity was grounded, according to IATA.

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“Slowing world trade and weak business confidence are affecting demand for air travel, while Hurricane Sandy delivered a concentrated punch to U.S. domestic and North Atlantic travel," said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and chief executive officer. "And its impact was felt globally.”

The percentage of available seats on domestic flights in October dropped 1.1% in the U.S., while revenue per passenger declined 0.7%, compared with the same month in 2011, according to the report.

In total, the nation's airlines canceled nearly 17,000 flights, primarily along the East Coast, where the superstorm flooded subways and airports and demolished hundreds of homes.

Although airlines allowed most travelers to rebook their flights for later dates, many fliers canceled travel plans altogether, said Victoria Day, a spokeswoman for Airlines for America, the trade group for airlines in the U.S.

"It is understandable that some U.S. carriers experienced a drop in the number of available seats and related revenue due to the Hurricane Sandy," she said.


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