Airlines to lose 2.3 billion dollars this year, says industry body

ISTANBUL - Air travel industry body IATA predicted Monday that airlines would lose 2.3 billion dollars this year, dramatically reversing an earlier forecast of profits nearly twice this figure.

By (AFP)

Published: Mon 2 Jun 2008, 6:33 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:06 PM

The International Air Transport Association, which represents companies accounting for 94 percent of world air travel, had forecast profits of 4.5 billion dollars (2.9 billion euros) in April but blamed rising fuel costs for the reversal.

"The situation has changed dramatically in recent weeks," IATA secretary general Giovanni Bisignani said at the start of the organisation's general meeting here.

"Oil skyrocketing above US 130 per barrel has brought us into uncharted territory. Add in the weakening global economy and this is yet another perfect storm."

The industry made profits of 5.6 billion dollars in 2007, the first since 2000.

Bisignani likened the the state of the airline industry to the Greek mythological figure Sisyphus, who was condemned to rolling a boulder up a hill for eternity only to watch it roll back down when he reached the top.

"Our industry is like Sisyphus: after a long uphill journey a giant boulder of bad news is driving us back down," Bisignani said.

Global aviation suffered following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. IATA estimated aviation business losses after the attacks at 40 billion dollars.

The industry has recovered but is now being badly hit by fuel costs, the troubled US economy and a global credit crunch.

Bisignani urged governments to "stop treating us and our passengers as cash cows and they must control monopoly suppliers who do the same."

He said "governments must ensure that the cost of energy reflects its true value."

Fuel costs are the biggest part of an airline's operating expenses.

Due to growth in the sector in recent years, global competition for pilots, mechanics and cabin crew has also increased costs.

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