EVERGREEN, Colo., Jan. 8, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A snapshot forecast of trends in the US airline industry indicates declines in flights, seat capacity and passengers in the coming year.

According to analyses accomplished by Boyd Group International, the nation's air transportation system will likely see a 1.5% to 2.0% drop in traffic in 2013. Into subsequent years, growth rates will also be much slower than previously expected, with US airports handling nearly 50 million fewer passengers in 2017 than the FAA is currently forecasting.

"Airline traffic can no longer be forecast simply with mathematical formulas based on metrics such as GDP, inflation, buying power and the like," stated Michael Boyd, Chairman. "There are only ten major full-schedule airline systems left, and each has its own subjective strategy in regard to where and if it adds capacity."

The report notes that airlines will be flying fewer airplanes in the next three years, as 50-seat "regional" jets get retired. But this will actually be positive for many small airports, particularly in markets where these jets are operating in excess of 80% full. "In a number of cases, the replacement with larger airliners will be revenue-positive for both airlines and the communities they serve," stated Boyd, whose firm in 1999 was the first to forecast the decline in demand for 50-seat jets. The firm forecasts that by 2017, US carriers will retire nearly 1,000 of these smaller airliners.

The report predicts further robust demand for new-generation mainline-cabin airliners – the Boeing 737MAX, the Airbus A-320NEO and the Bombardier C-Series. "The economics of these airplanes will allow a wider mission-envelope, including even some replacement of regional jet flying," Boyd noted.

The report also briefly discusses forecast trends at key airlines that will set the pace for the rest of the industry, including the potential American – US Airways merger, Delta's cutting-edge fleet strategies, Spirit's unique strategy of head-on competition with majors, and outcomes of the combination of Southwest and AirTran.

The snapshot report can be viewed and downloaded at www.AviationPlanning.com.

Founded in 1984, Boyd Group International is a multi-dimensional aviation consulting and research firm, providing assistance to airlines, airports, financial institutions, and manufacturers.

The Boyd Group, Inc. logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=4857

Michael J. Boyd, Boyd Group International, Inc.
78 Beaver Brook Canyon Road, Evergreen, Colorado  80439