Featured image: Chris Goulet/Airways

U.S. Airlines Gear Up for Busy Memorial Day Weekend

DALLAS — As the unofficial start of summer approaches, U.S. airlines are preparing for a surge in travel over the Memorial Day long weekend.

According to data from aviation analytics company Cirium, the number of scheduled seats for flights departing on Friday, May 24, 2024, and returning on Monday, May 27, 2024, is up 6% compared to the same period in 2023. This translates to approximately 600,000 additional seats available for travelers this year.

Leading the charge in domestic capacity growth are low-cost carriers (LCC) like Frontier Airlines (F9), which is seeing a 32% increase in flights and 36.5% more seats compared to May 2023. Breeze Airways (MX) and Avelo Airlines (XP) are also experiencing significant growth, with 37.3% and 26% more flights, respectively.

Among the major U.S. carriers, American Airlines (AA) tops the list with a 14% increase in flights and 12% more seats, followed by Delta Air Lines (DL) with a 4.6% increase in flights and 5.7% more seats.

United Airlines (UA) and Southwest Airlines (WN) are showing more modest growth, with UA adding 2.2% more flights and 3.4% more seats, while WN is remaining relatively flat compared to last year. JetBlue (B6), on the other hand, is reducing its domestic capacity by 13.8% in flights and 11.9% in seats.

N704FR Frontier Airlines Airbus A321neo A321-271. Photo: Michel Rodeback/Airways

Memorial Weekend Destinations

The states seeing the largest increases in air traffic this Memorial Day weekend are Texas, with 100,882 additional seats (+9%); North Carolina, with 75,600 more seats (+17%); and Colorado, with 69,766 extra seats (+14%). Other states like Florida, Arizona, and Minnesota are also expected to see significant increases in air travel.

At the city level, Knoxville, TN; Myrtle Beach, SC; and Asheville, NC are experiencing the most significant growth in seats, with increases of 24%, 23%, and 22%, respectively. Major hubs like Charlotte, NC; Denver, CO; and Dallas/Fort Worth, TX are also seeing double-digit percentage increases in capacity.

On the transatlantic front, U.S. airlines are also ramping up service to Europe. UA and DL continue to lead in terms of seats offered, but carriers like Virgin Atlantic (VS), AA, and B6 are seeing the most significant year-over-year growth.

As for airfare trends, transatlantic fares have been steadily declining since August 2023, while U.S. domestic fares have remained relatively stable, increasing at a slower pace than inflation.

With the increased capacity and strong demand for travel, the Memorial Day weekend is shaping up to be a busy one for U.S. airlines and airports. Travelers should plan ahead, arrive early, and be prepared for potential delays as the industry gears up for the summer travel season.

The featured image shows N439AN, an AA A321neo at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX).

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