SFO bucks slow travel trend this holiday season

AP file photo

Despite the economy’s slow recovery and industry struggles throughout the state, passengers are projected to travel out of San Francisco International Airport in strong numbers this holiday season.

About 2 million passengers are forecast to use SFO over Christmas and New Year’s, a 5 percent increase from 2010’s numbers, according to Michael McCarron, the hub’s spokesman.

The impressive growth at SFO defies dwindling air travel statistics at other hubs across the state. According to AAA, air travel is expected to drop by 9.9 percent this year compared to last year’s levels.

McCarron said that SFO has been able to buck the trend by adding several new carriers to its roster, a development that gives the hub about 5.5 percent more available seats for passengers this year. The hub has also been boosted by the renovation of Terminal 2, which reopened in April after a decadelong closure.

Overall, Californians are expected to leave their homes in droves this holiday season, although most of them will travel via automobile. About 10 million residents will drive to their holiday destination, a 2.5 percent increase from last year, according to AAA spokeswoman Cynthia Harris.

When combining all forms of transportation, holiday travel throughout the state is expected to go up by about 4 percent compared to last year, Harris said.

Harris said that the precarious economy has been a prevailing factor in families’ decision to drive instead of fly during the holidays.

“Californians are scaling back on travel expenditures as they express pessimism over the current sluggish economy,” Harris said. “But many are creating opportunities to visit family and friends during these holidays to catch up on much needed rest and rejuvenation after a very challenging year.”

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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