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Airports have enough trouble accommodating the flood of passengers hitting the skies during the Thanksgiving travel rush. Soon, this headache could become more than an annual occurrence: Some airports will face this every week.
The most alarming projection: in 2015 Chicago Midway and Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport will feel like the Wednesday before Thanksgiving every day.
Data from the U.S. Travel Association show what U.S. airports are on the path to longer lines and more frustrated travelers, and the findings come from 30 U.S. airports accounting for more than 70 percent of passenger plane boardings in 2013.
Since 2012, Chicago and Las Vegas have had one day a week face the same volume as the day before Thanksgiving, and two days a week since last year.
“Midway has been able to accommodate this growth in recent years and we believe it can continue to do so as long as our airline and airport partners keep working to invest in new technologies and improvements to our facilities,” said Gregg Cunningham, a spokesperson for Chicago’s department of aviation which manages Midway Airport.
Almost half, 13, of the airports examined already experience Thanksgiving-like congestion levels at least one day every week, an increase from six in last year’s study.
All 30 airports will reach their Thanksgiving peak on an average of one day per week within the next six years.
This year, Boston’s Logan airport, along with New York-JFK airport and Miami already experience a Thanksgiving-like rush one day a week. Next year, airports such as Washington-Dulles, Phoenix Sky Harbor, and Philadelphia will experience this one day a week, and Newark, Honolulu and Baltimore-Washington airports will have a Thanksgiving-like rush two days a week.
“With the upcoming reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bill, there is a real opportunity to address these issues with one solution we and many other major airports and industry associations have been advocating for,” said Cunningham.
“This is to increase the cap on the passenger facility charge (PFC), which has remained at $4.50 for over 14 years. Uncapping the PFC will provide the financial resources needed at the local level to undertake airport construction projects that enhance capacity and efficiency.”
Within the next decade, 27 of the top 30 U.S. airports will experience Wednesday before Thanksgiving congestion two days each week. For 20 of these airports, this will happen in the next five years.
By 2030, 20 of these will feel the Thanksgiving-rush every day.
Airports That Will Experience a Thanksgiving-like Rush Two Days a Week and When
|Airport||2 Days a Week||Change in years from 2011 forecast +/-|
|Las Vegas McCarran Intl||2013||3|
|Salt Lake City||2016||4|
|New York JFK||2017||-2|
Source: U.S. Travel Association