A rough end to a difficult year for airlines - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

A rough end to a difficult year for airlines

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By Wainwright Jeffers - bio | email

December 26, 2008.

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Many holiday air travelers ran into trouble on Friday.

There were weather delays in some places, and a technical glitch in Atlanta trickled down to Albany.

It's a rough end to a difficult year for airlines.

"It's been really slow this year," said Yvette Aehle, S.W. Ga. Regional Airport Director.

Given the country's economic situation, people are spending less on things like airline tickets.

"This year I think the recession has really hit home because we've had days where we've had less than 50 percent of our seats sold," said Aehle.

Airport officials say on a normal day 75 percent of the seats or more on flights here are sold.

Just last year, more travelers passed through Albany's airport since 2001.

"It was a wonderful year last year so comparing this year to last, not only did we have the recession but after a record year it's sort of disappointing," said Aehle.

But some south Georgians enjoy the convenience of flying out of Albany.

"I don't like the traffic in Atlanta," said Joann Severson, Albany.

Severson dropped off her mother at the airport on Friday, she likes to fly out of Albany but hasn't done it lately.

"We didn't do any traveling, not by flying this year because of the economy," said Severson.

Even as fuel prices come down ticket prices aren't following suit.

"Just because fuel is below $40 per barrel does not mean the airlines are cutting their fares because it's still a supply and demand issue," said Aehle.

As the new year approaches things aren't looking that bright, some airlines may cut more destinations in 2009.

"Luckily because we've got a lot of business traffic in and out of Albany we've always have a very good. We have always have a very good yield, so I do not believe we're in any danger of loosing any flights, but of course communities that don't use their service loose their service."

Loosing service in Albany is something Joanne hopes doesn't happen here.

"We need to use it, I wouldn't want to loose it I do like flying out of Albany," said Severson.

The total number of travelers passing through Albany's airport this year should be about 39,000 thousand.

Sunday will be one of their busiest days as people return from holiday travel.

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