David Learmount/LONDON

Airlines are cutting flights 24h either side of midnight 31 December in response to lower than normal passenger bookings. Overall passenger demand is following a "seasonal pattern", according to scheduled and charter carriers, people are travelling earlier for a longer New Year holiday and want to be at their destinations by the millennium night.

Travel is up for the whole holiday period, however, and while most carriers say they are tailoring departures to demand, a few say there will be no schedule changes.

Varying airline plans include:

• American Airlines: bookings for New Year's eve and day are "more than 50%" down on last year. It will stand down 480 of its 2,400 flights (20%) on the 31st and 5% for the following day;

• Delta and Continental: normal schedules. Delta says services to the Caribbean, Florida, Hawaii and New York are sold out;

• US low-fare carrier Southwest Airlines is standing down its fleet from 22:00 to 08:00 wherever its aircraft are at that time. Aircraft parking is "a problem which has not been resolved yet";

• British Airways: bookings for 15 December-30 January period are 29% up, but short-haul flights will land by 18:00 on New Year's eve. Twenty BA long-haul flights, inbound and outbound services, will be airborne at 00:00 GMT on routes between London and the Far East, Africa and North America;

UK charter carrier Britannia Airways: last landing at 22:00 on 31 December, all 30 aircraft on the ground at midnight, almost all parked in the UK. First take-off will be at 10:00 the next day. Parent company, tour operator Thomson says long-haul flights are almost sold out, particularly Florida and Thailand, but 40% of capacity on short-haul destinations is still unsold and booking rate is dipping;

• British Midland: last 31 December arrival at 19:00 and first departure next day at 10:40;

• KLM and US alliance partner Northwest Airlines: "strong bookings for the late December/early January holiday period", but "more substantial" cuts in the 31 December/1 January schedules than normal. KLM is operating five intercontinental flights when it would normally have flown 35, the airline says, adding that "almost all" its 31 December intra-European afternoon and evening flights are cancelled as well as "most 1 January morning flights". Northwest will reduce its 1,700 daily flights "in line with demand";

• Swissair, Air France and the main French domestic carriers: as scheduled.

• Ansett Australia: "low travel demand". All date-change passenger services cancelled, but cargo schedules unchanged;

• Japan Airlines: schedules not affected. Bookings up;

• Singapore Airlines: no aircraft to be airborne at midnight GMT because of reduced demand and the fact that SIA cannot be certain that some states on its routes will be Year 2000 compliant.

Source: Flight International