Staying away in droves: airline delays do hurt

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How do you measure a negative? Well, you don’t and can’t but one group thinks it can when it comes to airline trips not taken and taxes not paid. The group, the travel industry association, a trade group, has added its voice to the study of the cost of delays airline delays with an estimate of how many travellers are avoiding the airline system in the US. TIA said that 28% of air travellers it surveyed avoided at least one trip because of problems at the airport, hassles with security and the like. (You know the story.)

“The air travel crisis has hit a tipping point: more than 100,000 travelers each day are voting with their wallets by choosing to avoid trips,” said Roger Dow, president and chief executve of the association. More than half the avoided trips would have been for leisure, so Florida destinations are losing visitors, for instance. Travelers expect hassles at Chicago O’Hare Airport and decide not to fly to South Florida, he said.

 

Their estimates come after a congressional panel, the Joint Economic Committee, last week put the total cost of delays at $41 billion, counting airline fuel burn, the lost opportunity of travellers to do business, etc. The committee calculated that every lost hour was worth about $37.60 to a passenger.

The TIA study pegged the travel avoidance at on average 2.1 trips for the 1,000-plus air travellers surveyed by the Peter D. Hart Research Group/The Winston Group; they found that travellers avoided as many as 41 million air trips over the past 12 months. Of this total, 12 million were business trips and 29 million were leisure trips. The group then came up with totals of $26.5 billion in economic impact, including losses of $9.4 billion to airlines and $5.6 billion to hotels, and $4.2 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues. The TIA called for an emergency summit with the FAA; the Air Transport Association simply said, “welcome to the picnic.”

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