With fuel prices climbing and the economy unsettled, aviation passenger volume and airport traffic will rise only slightly this year, and the rate of growth will be slower than in 2007, the Federal Aviation Administration says.

In its latest annual Aerospace Forecast, released March 10, FAA says that U.S. passenger enplanements will increase 1.5% in 2008, to a total of 776.5 million. That compares with a 3% gain last year.

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  • Full FAA Forecast
  • Looking at the number of takeoffs and landings--a good measure of the load on airport runways and taxiways--FAA forecasts such operations will be up only 0.04% in 2008, to 61.4 million. That's marginally better growth than last year, when operations were virtually flat with 2006's level. The agency sees better operations growth in 2009, projecting a 2.3% increase. It also foresees annual gains of 1.8% to 1.9% from 2010 to 2025, the last year covered by the forecast.

    FAA Acting Administrator Robert A. Sturgell says, "The fundamentals of the industry--continued growth, cheap ticket prices--are vibrant down the road. With that said, in the near term, we're seeing a definite pause in growth." He adds, "We're talking flat growth in operations and slow growth in passengers."