A recent press release issued by the International Air Transport Association indicates that the demand for air travel is increasing and airlines are responding to the growth by adding more capacity. According to the IATA, North American carriers recorded a growth of 10.8 percent in June 2010, compared to June 2009, with a passenger load factor of 86.6 percent. International passenger demand was up 11.9 percent compared to June 2009. Based on data provided by the Air Transport Association, Business Traveler columnist for USA Today, David Grossman, reports that the top nine U.S. airlines are expected to add capacity at an average growth rate of 3.8 percent year over year. JetBlue is leading the way and is expected to add 9.2 percent more available seat miles in the third quarter 2010 compared to the third quarter 2009. Alaska Airlines is expected to add the second highest amount of additional capacity at 6.6 percent and Southwest is close behind at 5.4 percent.
Bottom line: While the news doesn’t automatically mean that more award seats will become available, if airlines add more seats than are purchased by paying customers, the remaining inventory may be made available to frequent flyers.