U.S. airlines expecting highest passenger numbers in 7 years

March 11, 2015, 11:31 AM UTC

This article is published in partnership with Time.com. The original version can be found here.


The spring travel season could see U.S. airlines post their highest passenger numbers in seven years, bolstered by rising employment and personal incomes, says industry group Airlines for America.

Some 134.8 million passengers — or about 2.2 million people per day — are projected to fly in March and April, according to a press release.

If accurate, that would mean the most airline travelers since numbers peaked in 2007 — right before the financial crisis.

The 2015 projections are a 2% boost from the 132.2 million people who flew on U.S. airlines during the same period last year.

John Heimlich, Airlines for America vice president and chief economist, said high consumer sentiment and “the continued affordability of air travel” may contribute to a busy travel season ahead.

Of course, it’s not just the cost of the flight that’s getting cheaper. The dollar’s surge on the foreign exchange markets–up some 25% in trade-weighted terms since the middle of last year–means that those traveling abroad will find that their money goes a lot further once they get there. (On the flip side, it means that the U.S. is becoming more expensive for foreign visitors, which is bad news for the domestic tourist industry.)

According to data from the Office of Travel and Tourism Industry, the number of international departures by U.S. citizens already rose 10% last year to a record 68.3 million, with departures to other North American markets rising 14% and those to overseas markets rising 6%.