May 16, 2013 / 3:34 PM / 6 years ago

U.S. airline group forecasts pickup in summer air passengers

Passengers wait for their flights in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), in Los Angeles, California April 24, 2013. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

(Reuters) - More people will likely fly this summer compared with a year ago as U.S. airlines gain a record level of international passengers, an industry association said on Thursday.

Airlines for America, the top U.S. airline industry group, forecast that close to 209 million people will fly on the nation’s carriers from June through August, up 1 percent from a year ago. That outlook includes 27 million international travelers, a record number, the group said on Thursday.

The summer is seasonally a strong period for airlines as people take vacations. This week, Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) and Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) said revenue trends were improving for May after softness in March and April.

Airlines for America said air travel was being aided by lower energy prices, increased corporate profits and higher household net worth.

The expected number of flying passengers this year would mark the highest number of summer air travelers for U.S. airlines since 2008, when more than 210 million flew. U.S. carriers had their highest number of flying passengers ever during the summer of 2007, at more than 217 million, the industry group said.

The group also said U.S. airlines as a whole improved their financial performance in the first quarter. Ten publicly traded airlines tracked by the group had a combined loss of $552 million in the period, compared with a loss of $1.7 billion a year earlier. Revenue for the group rose 2.5 percent in the first quarter to $34.3 billion.

Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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