The six largest U.S. airlines will reduce capacity 6.8% by the end of 2009, according to an analysis of schedule data by OAG Aviation -- the equivalent of removing a major airline from the skies. Analysis of historical data by the Air Transport association reveals this is the biggest capacity cut for U.S. carriers since 1942. Carriers have made these capacity reductions in response to a decline in demand for air travel – that is, reduced demand the industry is experiencing as a result of the recession as well as the anticipated, seasonal drop in demand in the traditionally slower winter travel months. However, some experts say even deeper cuts may be necessary. "There's no point putting seats in the air if people don't want to fly," says aviation consultant David Swierenga. "A double-digit cut, more than 10%, in capacity is called for."

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