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Airline group expects Labor Day travel to drop

/ Source: The Associated Press

An airline trade group expects Labor Day travel to drop by 5.7 percent this year, as rising airfares and schedule cuts keep travelers home.

The Air Transport Association of America projected on Monday that 16 million paying passengers will fly globally on U.S. airlines between Aug. 27 and Sept. 3. That would be down 5.7 percent from the 17 million passengers during the same period last year.

The projection includes a 6.5 percent drop in domestic travel and a 1 percent increase in international travel.

The ATA said jet fuel prices averaged $160.47 per barrel from June 1 to Aug. 12 — up 79 percent from the same period last year.

In addition to higher airfares and tighter schedules, the ATA said travel is being discouraged by higher energy prices, which have left consumers with less money to spend.

"We expect airplanes to be less full and skies to be less crowded this Labor Day holiday," said ATA President and CEO James C. May in a prepared statement. "Economic uncertainty and the heavy hit from sky-high energy prices mean that many vacation and business travelers are choosing to stay closer to home — if they go at all."