More people than ever will travel on U.S. airlines this summer, putting the industry on track to have its busiest season on record, according to numbers released today by Airlines for America. The trade organization expects 222 million travelers will fly—nearly 31 million of which will do so internationally—between June 1 and August 31, up nearly 5% over last year.
The report's findings come on the heels of a record quarter of profitability for the U.S. airline industry, due in large part to falling fuel costs that were down 36% for United and 40% for American. And Delta estimated low fuel prices will amount to cost savings of $2 billion by the end of the year.
The combination of cheap fuel and strong passenger numbers means the industry is putting more seats on the market. To keep up with the jump in demand, U.S. airlines have said they will increase the number of available seats by 126,000 per day to the highest levels since 2008-2009.
But strong demand did not drive ticket prices down significantly—in fact, many airlines increased their fares and pulled in more revenue from fee-based services like baggage, meals, and in-flight Wi-Fi.
With summer demand expected to reach record strength—13 of the 15 busiest travel days occur in the summer months—ticket prices don't show any signs of falling. Although the price of the average roundtrip fare in many markets is increasing, Airlines for America chief economist John Heimlich said air travel on U.S. carriers "remains one of the best consumer bargains in America" in a release accompanying his group's findings.