Holiday Air Travel Growing

Knoxville – The days before and after Thanksgiving are traditionally the busiest travel days of the year, and this year was no exception.

Some 20 million people traveled in the United States by air during the long holiday weekend, according to the airline industry.

The director of the University of Tennessee Transportation Research Center said travelers will likely become frustrated with long flight delays.

“As the capacity of our air system lags behind demand, we may reach the point where the system is operating at capacity, and delays become intolerable,” said Dr. Steve Richards. “At that point there would probably be some increase in long-distance highway travel, but we might also expect people to avoid non-essential trips.”

Richards said at some point, the nation will have to invest more money to expand airports and improve traffic control systems.

But until that happens, Richards said, more travelers may choose alternate ways of getting to their destinations.

“Bus usage may increase, although I don-t know if that-s the long-term solution,” Richards said. “I think you will see an expansion of our Amtrak or inner-city passenger rail service. We-re already seeing a renewed interest in that, in the Northeast.”

Amtrak recently unveiled it high-speed rail service connecting Boston to New York City and Washington, D.C.