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US airlines expect to carry record 31.6M passengers over Thanksgiving

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The top industry group for U.S. airlines predicts that the Thanksgiving Day travel period will break records.

A record 31.6 million passengers will travel on U.S. airlines globally over the upcoming period, according to Airlines for America. That total represents 3.7 percent more people from 2018 during the same travel period.

And Dec. 1 will be the busiest travel day ever for the airline industry, with 3.1 million people traveling that day.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is a typically busy travel day, but John Heimlich, Airlines for America vice president and chief economist, said in a call with reporters Tuesday that it is poised to be the busiest travel day “in the history of the United States airline industry.” 

“The popularity of air travel continues to soar this holiday season, as airlines and airports alike continue to invest billions of dollars into improving the quality of the experience and the efficiency of their operations,” Heimlich said.

On the day before Thanksgiving, 2.98 million passengers are expected to travel and, on the day after Thanksgiving, 2.96 million passengers are expected. 

But the holiday itself, Thanksgiving Day, is expected to be one of the lightest travel days of the year, with only 1.79 million passengers. In 2018, Thanksgiving Day was the fourth lightest day of the year, Heimlich said on Tuesday.

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