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US airlines say they are prepared for busier end of year holiday travel compared with the same peak period a year earlier, when storms led to thousands of canceled flights and congestion.

The US Federal Aviation Administration expects Thursday to be the busiest travel day of the week.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, the official holiday period runs from Thursday through Tuesday, Jan. 2.

US airline trade group Airlines for America (A4A) expects carriers to fly more than 39 million passengers during the holidays, or about 2.8 million passengers a day, up 16% from 2022.

Airlines and airports in the United States and Canada have hired workers and upgraded equipment in some cases to avoid last year’s congestion.

US passenger airlines have the largest workforce in the last two decades, A4A said.

In 2022, a high-profile operational meltdown at Southwest Airlines led to around 17,000 canceled flights and cost the carrier more than $1 billion, along with a historic penalty from the US Department of Transportation.

Canada’s largest airport has also increased staffing, expanded de-icing and added new advanced snowplows, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority said.

The airport wrestled with congestion during peak travel periods last year that led to hard limits on flights.

Holiday travel peaks in Europe despite security warnings

However, United Airlines, which expects to have its busiest-ever, end of year holiday travel season, with around 9 million passengers, does not currently expect weather to cause any operational interruptions, a spokesperson said.

US airlines expect demand to grow for sun destinations this holiday period, with seats flown from the US to Caribbean resort destinations up 18% in 2023 on an annual basis, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium.

Florida’s Orlando International Airport expects record crowds over the holidays.

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