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Fewer North Americans to travel during Thanksgiving holiday

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Fewer Americans are expected to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday due to the ongoing economic downturn, authorities said on Thursday.

The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) said it will have fewer flights and more available seats as the holiday is drawing near.

The airport is expected to receive 1.6 million passengers between Friday and Nov. 30, a 14.3-percent decline from the 1.85 million people who traveled last year, officials said.

At nearby Ontario airport, 147,000 people will pass through the airport, down from 210,000 passengers in 2007. That decline is due in part to Express Jet and Jet Blue’s decisions to end service at the airport.

Nationwide, about 41 million Americans will travel at least 80 kilometers for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a decline of 600,000 people, or 1.4 percent, from last year, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

The AAA called it the first decline in Thanksgiving travel since 2002.

“The overall state of the economy continues to present real challenges for some Americans looking to travel this Thanksgiving,” said AAA President Robert Darbelnet, in a prepared statement.

The faltering economy has cost 1.2 million jobs this year. As many Americans’ credit card spending power has declined, so has their ability to travel.

Meanwhile, the Air Transport Authority (ATA), the industry group for airlines, projects an even steeper decline, of 10 percent, in the number of air travelers during the Thanksgiving travel season, compared with last year.

Despite the decline in air travelers, the ATA and airline experts said that planes will be more crowded as a result of cuts in airline capacity. Despite recent decreases in fuel prices, the industry has been cutting its least fuel-efficient flights to save money since jet fuel hit record highs this summer.

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