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Superstorm Sandy pushed air travel down in October, report says

November 30, 2012|By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times

The world's airline industry lost an estimated $500 million in revenue because of the closure of several East Coast airports during the onslaught of Superstorm Sandy, according to an airline trade group.

The analysis of the storm's effect on the industry came from reports issued Wednesday and Thursday by the International Air Transport Assn., a trade group for the world's largest airlines.

The trade group estimated that the industry suffered most of its revenue losses from Oct. 28 to Nov. 3. At the peak of the storm Oct. 29, about 9% of global airline capacity was grounded, the trade group said. On that day alone, the industry lost $187 million, the group estimated.

"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, the International Air Transport Assn.'s director general. "And its impact was felt globally."

For the month of October, the percentage of available seats on domestic flights dropped 1.1% in the U.S. and 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.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

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