Leading US airlines are projecting a banner summer for air travel as international flights carry an all-time high number of passengers, an industry trade group said Monday.
Airlines for America (A4A) estimated that US airlines would carry 222 million passengers from June 1 through August 31, an average of 2.4 million per day.
That would mark a 4.5 percent increase, or 104,000 passengers per day, from a year earlier.
International flights will carry 31 million of this summer's passengers, a record high, the trade group said.
A4A said the top five most popular nonstop international destinations from the United States are, in descending order: Canada, Mexico, Britain, Germany and Japan.
Airlines are increasing the number of available seats during the summer by 4.6 percent, or 126,000 additional seats a day, the most since the 2008-2009 recession, A4A said.
Year-over-year, the flights getting the biggest seat increases are between the US and Mexico, Britain and China.
"The continued rise in US consumer sentiment and employment is leading to more people traveling more often, and air travel remains one of the best consumer bargains in America," said John Heimlich, A4A vice president and chief economist, in a statement.
"With 13 of the 15 busiest air travel days of the year falling in the summer months, US airlines are well-prepared to accommodate the increased travel demand by adding flights and seats, and deploying new and larger aircraft, along with a boost in staffing to enhance the customer experience."
Ten publicly traded passenger carriers reported a combined net profit of $3.1 billion in the first quarter, up 8.4 percent from a year ago, the trade group said.
Their operating margin was 8.4 percent, up 1.1 percent from the 2014 first quarter. Nevertheless, the margin was weaker than the corporate average of 9.8 percent on the broad-market S&P 500 index.
The airlines invested a total of $3.6 billion in the first quarter, putting them on track for more than $14 billion in capital spending for the full year, A4A said.
The airlines are due to take delivery of 367 new aircraft this year, a pace of about one per day.
The 10 airlines are: Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin America.