U.S. airlines expecting record passenger traffic for spring travel season

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Weekend Wildfire Burns in Boulder County Colo

Aviation trade group Airlines for America has forecast a hot spring for the industry.

Airlines expect a record number of 145 million spring travelers to fly from March 1 through April 30. As such, airlines are adding 110,000 seats per day across their networks to accommodate the 89,000 additional daily passengers expected to fly on US carriers during this period.

This forecast comes after a record 823 million people flew on U.S airlines a year ago according to U.S. Department of Transportation.

"There has never been a better time to fly", A4A vice president John Heimlich said in a statement, noting that "historically low fares, reliable operations" as well as "a boost in US employment and personal incomes" are fueling the demand.

"There has never been a better time to fly, as evidenced by the record levels of traffic US airlines saw in 2016 and will see again this spring", A4A Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich said in a statement.

"These expanded routes and the growth in air service at airports of all sizes serve as a reminder of the important role airlines play in connecting communities across America". That may not be what people want to hear, but it's welcome news for airlines which believe they can end several quarters where passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) has declined.

One reason for the spring increase: Airlines are not only adding seats but also routes.

Airlines will face new challenges in 2017, with fuel prices inching upward after hitting a low in 2016.

As profits have recovered from the 2008-2009 financial crisis, US airlines have paid down $63 billion in debt, bought hundreds of planes, added the equivalent of almost 33,000 full-time employees, and raised wages.

With approximately 89,000 more passengers on flights this spring, travelers can expect packed planes.

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