Why don’t airlines add flights on holidays?

It may seem obvious, but for airlines it’s not so easy

It seems an obvious question, especially when you see the queues and mayhem at airports, so why don’t airlines simply add more planes at super-busy times like Christmas, New Year or, in the US, Thanksgiving?

The truth is, for airlines it’s not so easy. Less-efficient planes are being retired, especially in Europe and North America. They’re not like car rental firms; leasing companies don’t operate in a way where airlines can add a Boeing 737 for a week or two.

Carriers have to be as lean as possible, especially today. They don’t keep extra planes lying around. They are already fully staffed and have crews tightly scheduled. And airport slots are jammed at many airports.

“The airlines would love to have the flexibility to add capacity, but the system is not set up for it,” explains Josh Marks, CEO of the airline consulting company masFlight.

“Our airports are so clogged up that we’re going to face Thanksgiving almost every day in a few years in every airport,” says Roger Dow, president and CEO of the US Travel Association.


[photo courtesy Finavia]


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