Agency: Economic variables causing airlines to cut back on flight offerings

The GAO is blaming airlines' cutbacks in flight offerings on economic variables. | Contributed photo

Recent variables in the economy have resulted in airlines scheduling fewer commercial flights, which impacts some airports more than others, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said on Thursday.



These variables include volatile fuel prices and the recession of 2008-2009, as well as airline mergers and shifts toward business models that demonstrate capacity management. 



General Aviation (GA) is one such company that has reduced its activity, with fewer GA aircraft hours flown and fewer operations. A report from 2014 shows that the quantity of scheduled flights from medium- and small-hub airports has decreased by approximately 20 percent between 2007 and 2012. In contrast, large-hub airports experienced a decline of only 9 percent. 



The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) further estimates that since 2004, there has been a steady decline in airports needing additional capacity to help prevent delays in flight operations.



The most recent reports show that despite these changes, passenger growth is on the rebound. The FAA estimates that U.S. airline passenger growth should increase by another 2 percent each year from now until 2035. 



The FAA estimates that the cost of further developing airports in the future has decreased in the past few years. By 2020, approximately six airports will reach capacity constraints, as opposed to the 41 airports originally estimated in 2004.

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