By DAVID BIRD
NEW YORK-- The uncertain economy will slow travel over the
Memorial Day holiday to a two-year low, according to a survey
by travel group AAA.
Air travel in the May
23-May 27 period is expected to drop 8% from a year earlier,
while the number of Americans hitting the roads at the start of
the peak driving season is expected to inch up by 0.3%.
AAA projects 34.8 million Americans will
travel 50 miles or more from home during the holiday, down 0.9%
from a year earlier.
The drop off is due to "an up-and-down economy", said Robert
L. Darbelnet, AAA president and chief executive.
Eighty-nine percent of travelers, or some 31.2 million, are
expected to make trips by car over Memorial Day, up from 31.1
million during the 2012 holiday. That's the most holiday
drivers since 2005, but a huge 16.4% below the number back
AAA surveyed travelers in early April, when the national
average price of gasoline was around 10 cents a gallon lower
than now and about 9% below a year earlier. More than 60%
respondents said prices wouldn't impact their plans.
The nationwide price of regular gasoline on Wednesday was
$3.66/gal, up 4% from a month ago, and 2 cents below the
year-earlier level, AAA said in its Daily Fuel Gauge
But prices in 17 states top year-earlier levels by an
average of nearly 30 cents/gal, due to rising crude-oil costs
and refinery slowdowns.
AAA said nationwide pump prices likely will stay high and
may reach a two-year high for the Memorial Day holiday, topping
$3.64/gal in 2012.
"The primary driver of the decline in holiday travelers is
an eight percent decrease in the number of people expected to
take to the skies this holiday," Mr. Darbelnet said. "American
travelers are experiencing fee fatigue and frustration with
everything from higher fares to airport security. As a result,
many are choosing road travel in higher numbers due to the
lower cost and convenience it offers."
AAA said air fares for the top 40 routes are up 10% from a
year earlier for the holiday period.
Median spending over the holiday is expected to drop by more
than 6% from a year earlier, to $659 from $702, with fuel costs
accounting for 16% of expenses, up 4.2% from a year earlier.
The average journey is projected to be 690 miles, up from
642 a year earlier, with drivers extending their range. Trips
of less than 150 miles made up 21% of all holiday travel last
year, but will account for just 13% this year, AAA said.
Car-rental costs will be at a four-year high for the holiday
and up 19% from a year earlier, while hotel rates are flat to
4% higher, AAA said.
Dow Jones Newswires