A strong dollar and an increase in international travel means airports and the travel industry are under strain.
U.S. airlines and airports are bracing for a busy weekend ahead of Labor Day as travelers plan to fly to international destinations and cooler destinations.
More than 20 million passengers will leave US airports between Thursday and Tuesday, a 14% increase from the same period a year earlier, according to travel booking app Hopper, continuing the boom in international travel these last months.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) plans to screen more than 14 million passengers between September 1 and September 6.
“We expect this Labor Day holiday weekend to be busy, with passenger volumes nearly 11% higher than last year, volumes that have already exceeded travel volumes for the Labor Day holiday. Labor 2019,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement.
American travelers have been flying overseas more frequently in recent months, taking advantage of flexible work arrangements, the end of coronavirus testing mandates and a strong U.S. dollar.
International flight, hotel, rental car and cruise bookings for Labor Day weekend are up 44% from a year ago, according to travel group AAA, while domestic reservations increased by 4% compared to last year.
Travel operators with a larger international presence reported strong earnings, with companies ranging from Airbnb to Marriott forecasting strong future demand due to strong global travel and higher room rates.
“U.S. room rates increased 2.5% in the first 26 days of August and we expect similar year-over-year rate increases for the long weekend,” said said Jan Freitag, national director of hotel analytics at CoStar Group.
AAA said Vancouver, Rome, London, Dublin and Paris were the top five destinations for the long weekend.
Domestic cruise bookings also appear strong, up 19% from a year earlier, AAA estimated. Airfare for domestic jaunts averages $226 per ticket, down 11% from last year and 20% from Labor Day weekend in 2019, according to Hopper .
As analysts expect demand to hold up this weekend, Hurricane Idalia wreaked havoc in parts of the United States, upending the travel plans of thousands of people.
More than 1,500 flights were delayed on Friday and 60 flights were canceled, according to flight tracking site Flightaware.com, as Hurricane Idalia hit Florida’s Big Bend area earlier this week.
(Reporting by Priyamvada C in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Doyinsola Oladipo in New York; editing by Vinay Dwivedi)
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