Airlines predict 222 million summer passengers

Airlines predict 222 million summer passengers
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The group that lobbies for airlines in Washington predicted Monday that 222 million passengers will fly on U.S. carriers this summer. 

The figure, which was released Monday by Airlines For America, is a 4.5 percent over airline traffic in the summer of 2014, which is defined as the months between June 1 and Aug. 31. 

About 31 million of the anticipated airline passengers are expected to take international flights, according to the group. 

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The airline industry group said the expected jump in air travel would be the highest number of summer passengers ever if it is realized.  

“The continued rise in U.S. consumer sentiment and employment is leading to more people traveling more often, and air travel remains one of the best consumer bargains in America,” A4A Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich said in a statement. 

“With 13 of the 15 busiest air travel days of the year falling in the summer months, U.S. airlines are well-prepared to accommodate the increased travel demand by adding flights and seats, and deploying new and larger aircraft, along with a boost in staffing to enhance the customer experience,” Heimlich continued. 

The predicted increase in air travel comes as lawmakers are facing a Sept. 30 deadline for extending funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

The FAA funding bill, which is closely watched by the aviation industry, has been overshadowed by May 31 deadline for surface transportation funding that has consumed lawmakers' attention for most of the year. 

Aviation groups, including A4A, have said Congress will have pivot quickly to the FAA funding to pass a multi-year bill for the agency in time to beat the forthcoming deadline.